How likely is it that a tsunami could hit Ireland? It’s possible, expert claims

How likely is it that a tsunami could hit Ireland? Unfortunately, the possibility is becoming more likely.

The prospect of tsunamis, those giant towering cyclones of destruction and chaos, coming to our Irish shores is understandably terrifying to imagine. No doubt you are well aware of the destruction they cause—if not, a quick Google search about the one that hit Indonesia in 2004 should quickly bring you up to speed.

And now we are becoming ever more aware of the idea that a potentially devastating tsunami could theoretically be heading to our shores at some point in Ireland’s future, according to Professor Frédéric Dias at the Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy (MaREI) at University College Dublin (UCD).

But how serious is the threat? Could it be one that has life-threatening consequences? We’ve got all the info you need to know about the prospect of whether a tsunami could hit Ireland.

Who is Professor Frédéric Dias?

It is possible a tsunami could hit Ireland, says Frederic Dias of University College Dublin
University College Dublin (Credit: Twitter / @ucddublin)

He joined UCD in 2009 to work on wave energy converters, and Dias is now leading the wave group at the esteemed Irish university’s MaREI.

Dias was elected as a member of the Royal Irish Academy in 2016 and the Academy of Europe in 2017. He has also recently received his second Advanced Grant from the European Research Council, which was worth €2.5m.

Alright, so we’re going to go out on a limb and say he probably knows what he’s talking about.

From what we’ve understood, the current project he’s working on relates to “the general field of water waves.” Dias, in layman’s terms, is working on the development of an operational tool that could predict when and where a tsunami could hit.

Could a tsunami hit Ireland?

Is it likely a tsunami could hit Ireland?

Definitely, maybe.

It’s hard to know for sure when a tsunami is going to hit—they are unpredictable monsters at the best of times, giving only minutes of warning prior to making landfall. There is a huge vulnerability to port and maritime assets in the event of a tsunami.

The most recent tsunami to have hit Ireland occurred in 1775, in Lisbon. It created two-metre waves, which maybe doesn’t sound like much on paper—but the effects of even this relatively small weather event were intense. Even a couple of feet of water pushing against you is difficult to stand upright in.

Tsunamis can have devastating consequences

This is why we want to be prepared in case the worst should happen and one makes landfall on our Emerald Isle.

Asked why he thinks his research is important, Dias said:

“Even though Ireland isn’t the first country one thinks of when talking about tsunamis, the risk isn’t zero. Moreover, people travel more and more, and the probability of encountering a tsunami is also increasing.

“Our knowledge of what happens in the water column is still incomplete. Understanding currents is important for several issues – such as sea pollution – and the impact of big storms is poorly known. Inundation and erosion are also important issues.”

Final thoughts

Climate change is a bit part of the likelihood that a tsunami could hit Ireland

Though knowing for sure when a tsunami could hit Ireland remains a near-impossible task, we are seeing an increase in things like hurricanes, tsunamis, and typhoons in recent years—and they are gaining in strength.

Climate change is a big part of this, and we should all remember to do our part for our Earth while we can. It’s the only one we have!

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