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A 305-year continuous monthly rainfall series for the island of Ireland (1711–2016)

Murphy, Conor; Broderick, Ciaran; Burt, Timothy P.; Curley, Mary; Duffy, Catriona; Hall, Julia; Harrigan, Shaun; Matthews, Tom K.R.; Macdonald, Neil; McCarthy, Gerard; McCarthy, Mark P.; Mullan, Donal; Noone, Simon; Osborn, Timothy J.; Ryan, Ciara; Sweeney, John; Thorne, Peter W.; Walsh, Seamus; Wilby, Robert L.

A 305-year continuous monthly rainfall series for the island of Ireland (1711–2016) Thumbnail


Conor Murphy

Ciaran Broderick

Timothy P. Burt

Mary Curley

Catriona Duffy

Julia Hall

Shaun Harrigan

Tom K.R. Matthews

Neil Macdonald

Gerard McCarthy

Mark P. McCarthy

Donal Mullan

Simon Noone

Timothy J. Osborn

Ciara Ryan

John Sweeney

Peter W. Thorne

Seamus Walsh

Robert L. Wilby


A continuous 305-year (1711–2016) monthly rainfall series (IoI_1711) is created for the Island of Ireland. The post 1850 series draws on an existing quality assured rainfall network for Ireland, while pre-1850 values come from instrumental and documentary series compiled, but not published by the UK Met Office. The series is evaluated by comparison with independent long-term observations and reconstructions of precipitation, temperature and circulation indices from across the British–Irish Isles. Strong decadal consistency of IoI_1711 with other long-term observations is evident throughout the annual, boreal spring and autumn series. Annually, the most recent decade (2006–2015) is found to be the wettest in over 300 years. The winter series is probably too dry between the 1740s and 1780s, but strong consistency with other long-term observations strengthens confidence from 1790 onwards. The IoI_1711 series has remarkably wet winters during the 1730s, concurrent with a period of strong westerly airflow, glacial advance throughout Scandinavia and near unprecedented warmth in the Central England Temperature record – all consistent with a strongly positive phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation. Unusually wet summers occurred in the 1750s, consistent with proxy (tree-ring) reconstructions of summer precipitation in the region. Our analysis shows that inter-decadal variability of precipitation is much larger than previously thought, while relationships with key modes of climate variability are time-variant. The IoI_1711 series reveals statistically significant multi-centennial trends in winter (increasing) and summer (decreasing) seasonal precipitation. However, given uncertainties in the early winter record, the former finding should be regarded as tentative. The derived record, one of the longest continuous series in Europe, offers valuable insights for understanding multi-decadal and centennial rainfall variability in Ireland, and provides a firm basis for benchmarking other long-term records and reconstructions of past climate. Correlation of Irish rainfall with other parts of Europe increases the utility of the series for understanding historical climate in further regions.


Murphy, C., Broderick, C., Burt, T. P., Curley, M., Duffy, C., Hall, J., …Wilby, R. L. (2018). A 305-year continuous monthly rainfall series for the island of Ireland (1711–2016). Climate of the Past, 14(3), 413-440.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 16, 2018
Online Publication Date Mar 27, 2018
Publication Date Mar 27, 2018
Deposit Date Apr 19, 2018
Publicly Available Date Apr 19, 2018
Journal Climate of the Past
Print ISSN 1814-9324
Electronic ISSN 1814-9332
Publisher European Geosciences Union
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 14
Issue 3
Pages 413-440


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