September 12, 2013
Europe’s Hottest Days Are Even Hotter Because Of Climate Change
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
While climate change has caused temperatures to spike throughout much of the world, a stretch of Europe from southern England and northern France to Denmark has been especially affected, according to new research published Wednesday in the journal Environmental Research Letters.
Researchers, from the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science and the University of Warwick, have found that the hottest five percent of days -- as well as the coldest nights -- in this region of the continent have warmed more than four times the global average since 1950.
In comparison, the average and slightly hotter-than-average days have experienced their highest average increase in temperature in southern France and Germany, while in eastern Spain and central Italy, there was been broad warming across all types of days, the researchers said. They also noted that in most regions cooler-than-average days have not warmed as much and in some areas temperature thresholds have been largely unchanged since 1950.
“Climate is fundamentally the distributions of weather. As climate changes, the distributions change. But they don't just shift, they change shape. How they change shape depends on where you are,” explained lead author Dr. David Stainforth. “In Britain, climate change will feel very different if you live in Northumbria to if you live in Oxfordshire; different again in Devon.”
“Our results also illustrate that the international goal of limiting the increase in global average temperature to [3.6 degrees F] would involve far greater changes for some places and for some aspects of climate, and therefore for particular individuals, communities and industries,” he added.
Using a new method they developed, Dr. Stainforth and his colleagues compiled maps of the changes of European climatic distributions for summer and winter, as well as daytime and nighttime temperatures. They believe that their research will be of great value to climate services and the meteorological community, helping to prepare these individuals and organizations for a drastically-changing set of weather patterns.
“It is common to discuss climate change in terms of changes in global average temperatures but these can be far from people's perceptions of climate change. The results in this paper begin to provide a picture of how local climate has been changing across Europe. It is a picture which is closer to that experienced by individuals,” said study co-author Professor Sandra Chapman.
“Changes in local climate pose challenges for decision makers across society not just when preparing for the climate of the future but even when planning for the climate of today,” Dr. Stainforth added. “We need to design buildings so that they don't overheat, decide which are the best crops to plant, and even plan for variations in large scale productivity. These would all benefit from knowledge of how the climate distribution has changed at particular locations. This work begins to provide such information.”