Once upon a time in a heatwave

Once upon a time there was a place called Northern Ireland. Not too big or too small, it was just right as a test bed for exploring the power of stories for communicating climate science. Storytelling can connect with people on a deep level and can move seamlessly from facts and emotions, through to values and positive examples of previous action. This connection using narrative, particularly to examples of previous action, is important for providing people with a sense of agency – an ability to
enact change.

Dr. Alan Kennedy–Asser from the University of Bristol worked with Climate NI as an embedded researcher part-time to run the project, Once upon a time in a heatwave. Alan is a climate scientist focussing on UK heat extremes, but with an interest in inter–disciplinary research methods, including the use of arts and story in research. In the other 50% of his time Alan is a researcher on the OpenCLIM project so with his influence NI should be included better in the data gathering, mapping and modelling such as ensuring NI is included in the heat-stress indices for agriculture.

Summer Heat and Agriculture in NI App

Northern Ireland has recently experienced a number of major summer droughts and heatwaves in 2018 and 2021. These have had a range of impacts including a hosepipe ban, travel disruption and increased wildfires. This app will guide you through how changing summer heat extremes could impact agriculture in Northern Ireland.

Belfast Heat Walking Tour and Workshop

Apps and mapping of climate hazards and risk are helpful but sometimes it pays off to see things ‘on the ground’. In August 2022, a walk was organised across Belfast beginning at Ormeau Park and ending at 2 Royal Avenue to see areas both at higher and lower risk in the city, with stops to highlight what makes an area vulnerable or resilient. After the walk, there was an interactive workshop to understand how climate information fits within decision making processes for those working in health, community care, emergency planning, built environment and retrofit.

Place-based case-study of impacts and adaptation from an at-risk community (Castlederg)

The town of Castlederg in Co. Derry/Londonderry currently holds the record for being both the hottest and coldest place in Northern Ireland (at the time of writing). Between the maximum temperature during the heatwave of 2021 (31.3°C) and the minimum of the winter of 2010 (18.7 °C), a 50 °C temperature range has been recorded in the past 12 years.

The report developed by Dr. Alan Kennedy-Asser looks at the impacts of these heat extremes on a rural community, as well as
highlighting steps that have been taken in Castlederg to improve resilience to such extremes.

The report can be viewed here.

If you would like to find out more about this project please get in contact with Alan via email alan@climatenorthernireland.org.uk