The gap between world daily maximum and minimum temperatures is getting narrower in a further sign of climate change, according to new research.
A study led by Prof Peter Thorne of Maynooth University’s department of geography has assessed the range between daily minimum and maximum temperatures going back to the mid-1900s at specific locations.
It found that most global land areas analysed had experienced significant warming of both maximum and minimum temperature extremes since 1950.
In that period daily minimum temperatures rose 0.24 degrees per decade while daily maximum temperatures rose 0.19 degrees per decade.
The difference between the maximum and minimum ranges fell 0.04 degrees per decade since the mid-20th century, with Europe experiencing a greater effect than North America and Australia, according to the Journal of Geophysical Research.
Prof Thorne said the data had “significant ramifications” for Ireland where low night temperatures were important for human health, crops and livestock.
With the agri-food sector worth €24 billion, changes in the thermal climate could have significant consequences for Ireland’s economy.
The research was released as Minister for Climate Change Denis Naughten launched guidelines aimed at developing county strategies to deal with climate change.
The Climate Change Adaptation Strategy Guidelines were prepared on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency by academics at UCC.
Local authorities are being asked to use them to assess their area’s vulnerability to climate risks and identify, cost and prioritise actions.
Mr Naughten said climate change was gaining increasing recognition as “the global challenge of our generation”.
“While climate policy has and must continue to be primarily focused on the issue of reducing emissions in accordance with EU and international obligations, adaptation is also an urgent policy priority.
“We have no choice now but to take adaptation measures to deal with unavoidable climate impacts and their economic, social and environmental costs.
“By prioritising a coherent, flexible and participatory approach at national, sectoral and local levels, we can aim to plan, in a considered way, how to adapt our towns and cities to the future impacts that climate change will bring.”