Friday, November 27, 2015

Extreme Heatwaves May Hit Europe in the Short Term

Severe heatwaves in the past have caused crop failures and thousands of deaths. (Credit: © Maksim Pasko, Fotolia) Click to Enlarge.
Regional climate projections for the two coming decades (2021-2040) suggest enhanced probability of heatwaves anywhere in Europe, which would be comparable or greater than the Russian heatwave in 2010 -- the worst since 1950 -- according to a JRC-led article published today in Environmental Research Letters.  Using an improved heatwave index, the article also ranks the 10 record-breaking heatwaves that have struck the continent in the last 65 years.

The findings are based on the use of the Heat Wave Magnitude Index daily (HWMId) which allows comparison of events over space and time.  The authors estimate the magnitude and probability of occurrence of extreme heatwaves in the near-term.

The analysis shows that all previous records were broken in 2010 in Russia as the heatwave exceeded night and day records in the extent of territory covered, average peak and duration. In particular, the spatial extent and the spatial HWMId maximum were about twice as high as those of the heatwave in central Europe in 2003 and in Finland in 1972.

Nearly all the models showed that a heatwave like the one in central Europe in 2003 occurs at least once in 30 years under two of the four climate scenarios adopted by the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) for its fifth Assessment Report (AR5) in 2014.  These two scenarios are known as RCP4.5 and RCP8.5.

Read more at Extreme Heatwaves May Hit Europe in the Short Term

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