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June - Red sky at night, shepherd's delight: Weather and agriculture

Continuing the theme from last month, the June map takes a look historical weather data, for rainfall and temperatures. Generally Ireland's climate is mild with relatively little year to year variation. Extreme winters and summers are exceptional. Irelands “Emerald Isle” synonym is well-deserved.

Map of the Month: June

Cartographers: Dr Jesko Zimmermann, Rob O'Hara & Réamonn Fealy

View and interact with the map here: Red sky at night, shepherd's delight 

Knowing the weather has been an important part of running a farm since the onset of agriculture. Where the survival of entire communities was so intrinsically linked to the success of crops, a bad weather event, such as a late frost or a misjudgement of the onset of seasons could spell catastrophe.

Continuing the theme from last month's map, we take a broader look at the Irish climate and how weather has been crucial to agriculture since days immemorial. This interactive map touches on the history of predicting the passage of seasons, and the recording of weather, gives an overview of the current climate and how it influences agriculture in Ireland, and takes a closer look at a specific colloquialism.

As the map Red sky at night, shepherd's delight shows, the main influence on the mean annual temperatures here is the Gulf Stream, a warm and swift ocean current that originates in the Gulf of Mexico and crosses Atlantic Ocean towards Europe. Notice the warmer average temperatures along the south west coast. Another important factor is topography. It drives temperature through the adiabatic temperature gradient, the decrease of temperature by about 1° C for every 100 m increase in elevation. This in return controls rainfall, as with cooler temperatures the capacity of air to hold moisture decreases leading to rainfall. The west of Ireland is particularly wet, as the prevailing westerly winds drive air loaded with moisture from the long journey across the Atlantic onto the Irish land mass, leading to rainfall well in excess of 1000 mm per year.

Each month the Teagasc spatial analysis unit use data from a number of sources and share it as a map to assist farming

View previous Maps of the Months here