It is expected that climate change will impact on flood risk in Ireland resulting in rising sea levels and increased risk to our coastal communities and assets. The incidents of wetter winters and the number of heavy rainfall days per year are both projected to increase, giving rise to greater risk from river and urban storm water flooding.
While there is considerable uncertainty associated with most aspects of the potential impacts of climate change on flood risk (e.g. how fast sea levels will continue to rise into the future), the OPW considered that it was prudent to take the potential for climate change into account in the development of proposed measures in the Catchment Flood Risk Management (CFRAM) Programme.
One of the main objectives of the CFRAM Programme has been to assess the existing flood risk and also the potential for significant increases in this risk in the future, including due to climate change.
Therefore the OPW’s CFRAM Programme took into account the assessment of risk for two potential future scenarios, the:
- Mid-Range Future Scenario - increase in rainfall of 20% and sea level rise of 500mm (20 inches), and
- High-End Future Scenario - increase in rainfall of 30% and sea level rise of 1,000 mm (40 inches).
In this way, the assessment of potentially feasible proposed measures to be outlined the Flood Risk Management Plans have taken into account how they might cope with the potential impact of climate change. The specific adaptation strategy for each proposed measure can be assessed when the measures are developed in further detail at a project-level.
In general, flood relief schemes in the OPW's current Capital Programme are designed to be adaptable in the future for climate change. Some defences are constructed with an inbuilt allowance for climate change where it might be difficult or costly to undertake works in the future while others are built without an allowance but can be extended in the future to take account of climate change.