Twenty-first century wave climate projections for Ireland and surface winds in the North Atlantic Ocean
Ireland has a highly energetic wave and wind climate, and is therefore uniquely placed in terms of its ocean renewable energy resource. The socio-economic importance of the marine resource to Ireland makes it critical to quantify how the wave and wind climate may change in the future due to global climate change. Projected changes in winds, ocean waves and the frequency and severity of extreme weather events should be carefully assessed for long-term marine and coastal planning. We derived an ensemble of future wave climate projections for Ireland using the EC-Earth global climate model and the WAVEWATCH III ® wave model, by comparing the future 30-year period 2070–2099 to the period 1980–2009 for the RCP4.5 and the RCP8.5 forcing scenarios. This dataset is currently the highest resolution wave projection dataset available for Ireland. The EC-Earth ensemble predicts decreases in mean (up to 2 % for RCP4.5 and up to 3.5 % for RCP8.5) 10 m wind speeds over the North Atlantic Ocean (5–75° N, 0–80° W) by the end of the century, which will consequently affect swell generation for the Irish wave climate. The WAVEWATCH III ® model predicts an overall decrease in annual and seasonal mean significant wave heights around Ireland, with the largest decreases in summer (up to 15 %) and winter (up to 10 %) for RCP8.5. Projected decreases in mean significant wave heights for spring and autumn were found to be small for both forcing scenarios (less than 5 %), with no significant decrease found for RCP4.5 off the west coast in those seasons.