Climate change will vary in its degree and impact from location to location, so the scientific models that cover the whole planet don’t tell us very much about the regions where we live and plan our futures. Ireland’s government commissioned its weather service and the University College of Dublin to come up with a model just for its island nation, and then report on what it found.

That report – called by this article in the Business Post, “the first of its type” – was expected to forecast “reasonably significant changes” in the Irish climate by mid-century. Reading the specifics, as quoted below, I’d go along with the “significant” part. Not so sure about the “reasonably” qualifier, though.

The north and west, the reports finds, are likely to become wetter. The climate change models show that average temperatures are likely to increase by 1 to 1.4 degrees by mid-century and by as much as 33.5 degrees by the end of the century. The models tend to move towards greater uncertainty later in the century, as it is unclear how effective efforts to combat climate change will be.

While variations in average temperatures may seem insignificant, small changes can have huge effects on climate. Two degrees of global warming, it has been estimated, would give Finland a climate similar to that enjoyed by the south of France today. The south of France, meanwhile, would end up with a climate like North Africa’s.

Changes in climate are gradual, but they can cause significant differences within a relatively short period of time. For instance, the study finds that Ireland’s winters are no longer as cold as they were half a century ago – there has been an increase in temperature of about half a degree in the last 50 years.

Winter rainfall is expected to increase. The climate modelling predicts that, in the period 2020-2060, winters will be 5-10 per cent wetter than at present. By the end of the century, the increase in rainfall could be as much as 25 per cent above current levels.

Correspondingly, by mid-century, summer rainfall is predicted to decrease by 5-10 per cent, while by 2100, the decrease is expected to be 10-18 per cent.

Average wind speeds are expected to show small increases in the winter months, and slight decreases in the summer months initially, while, by the end of the century a general decline in wind speeds is expected.

Rising sea temperatures will lead to more intense weather systems, though many of these are expected to be at their worst to the north of Ireland. This country will see fewer but stronger storms, the report predicts.

Storm surges and waves at sea will get bigger, particularly on the west coast. An increase in storm surges of over one metre in height and a parallel increase in the height of waves is predicted.

The closer you get to the poles, the greater the deviation of temperature from its historic averages. So, Alaska leads all other states in the degree of impact from current climate changes. For them, the writing on the wall is much plainer than for the Lower 48 and Hawaii.

Alaska’s Climate Impact Assessment Committee issued its report on March 17 and a balanced report it was, recognizing the upside of a warmer Alaska along with the downside. Benefiting the state would be increases in tourism, research and commercial shipping. (Not to be negative, but if the tourism and research are increasing because the environment is changing so fast, those benefits may be not only fleeting, but ironic in the extreme.)

On the other hand, global warming continues to threaten dozens of rural communities on or near the coastline, with accentuated erosion problems. The impact of climate change will also be felt in commercial, sport and subsistence fisheries, and sport and subsistence hunting, as well as in the way the insurance industry deals with Alaska, the report said.

The Committee remanded its recommendations to the governor’s new “sub-cabinet for climate change,” and,

recommended that the Legislature consider a coordinated process for village relocation efforts, a review of capital planning statutes to determine if they meet the needs of potential future impacts, and support of federal efforts on mapping, tide stations, U.S. Coast Guard presence and permafrost thaw.

So Alaska, it seems, will be the first state to begin relocation planning to deal with current and expected climate change impacts. Beside loss of permafrost and migrating coastlines due to the softening of terrain, the committee also forecasts changes in migratory patterns of wildlife that will affect indigenous lifestyles around the Arctic Circle and changes in boreal forests that are increasingly threatened by insect infestations due to warmer winters.

And, of course, the insurance industry has recognized the need for changing its policies in light of Alaska’s altered climate.

The insurance industry also will be reviewing insurance regulations, potentially making significant changes that will be necessary as a result of global warming, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the report noted.