Why Winter is Comfy in Dublin

The red dots on this map show the locations of Portsmouth (left) and Dublin (right). (Base map was downloaded from a Regnum Christi blog post.)http://live.regnumchristi.org/2011/07/where-are-you-from/

The red dots on this map show the locations of Portsmouth (left) and Dublin (right). (Base map was downloaded from a Regnum Christi blog post.)

Winter weather in Dublin is often much like that in the costal region of Virginia where my house is.  The nearby water helps mitigate temperature extremes in each location.  (That’s partly because water heats up during the day and releases that energy slowly at night — keeping costal areas warmer than inland areas during winter.)

Like Portsmouth, Dublin rarely sees snow.  When a dusting comes, it quickly dissolves.

Both places near the brink of calamity with the slightest hint of ice or snow. The cities and drivers simply aren’t prepared to deal with it.

What’s interesting about all this is that Dublin is so very far north. It’s much farther north than, say, Fargo, North Dakota, where my friends have reported recent wind chills of minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit!?!! Yet it never gets that cold here!

In summer, however, Dublin doesn’t get nearly as warm as Portsmouth.

In 2003 Dave and I were in Ireland for the extended “heat wave” where temperatures reached 75 degrees Fahrenheit for at least two weeks.

This chart shows the blend of temperature and humidity that most people in the States find comfortable. (Image from Shiller, M. (2004). Mechanical and electrical systems. Chicago: Dearborn Financial Publishing.)

This chart shows the blend of temperature and humidity that most people in the States find comfortable. (Image from Shiller, M. (2004). Mechanical and electrical systems. Chicago: Dearborn Financial Publishing.)

These factors affect human thermal comfort. (Image from the book Shiller, M. (2004). Mechanical and electrical systems. Chicago: Dearborn Financial Publishing.)

These factors affect human thermal comfort. (Image from the book Shiller, M. (2004). Mechanical and electrical systems. Chicago: Dearborn Financial Publishing.)

The humidity is terrible at home in the summer.  But here, the level of humidity is always quite comfortable.  The air doesn’t tend to hold a lot of water.  When it reaches the point of saturation that would be uncomfortable to most people, it drops the water in the form of rain.  So, Dublin gets some rain most days, but the shower doesn’t usually last long.  I don’t carry an umbrella because a lightweight coat and hat do a fine job keeping me dry.

Based on the chart above (that I use in the Architectural Ecology classes I teach at Hampton University), the humidity level in Dublin must stay between 20-75%.  Mother Nature must naturally remove the water as rain when humidity reaches a point over 75% here.  How generous of her!

Overall, Dublin enjoys a pretty good balance of the factors show in the drawing to the right (humidity, temperature, sun, and wind).

The weather was chilly this morning as I boarded the bus at O'Connell Street to go interview potential Fulbrighters -- but it was much warmer than in much of the USA!

Incidentally, the humidity in this picture is from the warm, wet breath of people riding the bus this chilly morning. The wet air tends to get trapped inside the bus.  And, it seems to be a bit more humid up top on the double deckers, perhaps because heat rises.

A great benefit of all this is that my laundry almost always dries within the day when I hang it inside the apartment — I have a clothes dryer here, but thankfully no need for it!  The air is dry enough here to absorb the water in the clothes as soon as I hang them.  It takes much longer for laundry to dry in my house in Portsmouth, even when the air conditioner is running overtime to such the water form the air.

Here, there’s no need for AC (except, of course, in buildings that were designed without regard for climate… who would overlook that!?!).

2 Comments

  1. The humidity levels in some parts of Ireland match those of New York in the summer. So even if it’s under 20 celsius, it can get incredibly uncomfortable inside houses & buildings lacking ventilation. Such buildings are common because the Irish attitude towards home building & insulation is to generally keep the heat in. This a problem if you have warmish temperature combined with high humidity in the summer and NO airconditioning!

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