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Miss Alison Crawford
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Preparing for a changing climate in Northern Ireland

Atkins is examining both the opportunities and threats presented by the impacts of climate change for a range of clients and sectors. Most recently, Atkins was helping Northern Ireland with this issue.

The climate of Northern Ireland is already changing and it is expected that these changes will accelerate over the coming century. While we can try to reduce future climate change by stabilising or reducing greenhouse gas emissions, due to past emissions there will be some unavoidable climate change. Therefore, alongside mitigation efforts we need to introduce measures that will allow us to adapt and prepare for changes in the climate.

In Northern Ireland, air temperature and the number of hot days are rising, while rainfall is increasing in winter, but falling in summer. These changes will have an impact, for better or worse, on the environment, society and economy of Northern Ireland.

We were commissioned by the Scottish & Northern Ireland Forum for Environmental Research (SNIFFER) to study the ways in which Northern Ireland should prepare; specifically focusing on public sector bodies, identifying their current response to climate change and what actions are required to achieve adaptation.

The study identified current weather-related impacts, risks due to climate change, current approaches to adaptation, gaps in understanding or action and recommendations for building adaptive capacity and delivering adaptive action.

Unlike previous studies which have simply listed possible impacts, this work examined the risk of each impact on the basis of likelihood and consequence. This strategic level study facilitated the prioritisation of climate change impacts and adaptive responses within sectors.

This project benefited from our multi-disciplinary multinational team working with our partners at the University of East Anglia, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Oxford Brookes University and Forest Research.

The detailed technical report from this project can be found on the SNIFFER website at www.sniffer.org.uk under project code UKCC13.

Key Contact: Geoff Darch, Scientist, Atkins, Water Resources Management Team, Oxford Geoff.Darch@atkinsglobal.com

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