, Volume 35, Issue 7-8, pp 1191-1205
Date: 18 Aug 2009

Future changes in Central Europe heat waves expected to mostly follow summer mean warming

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Abstract

Daily output from the PRUDENCE ensemble of regional climate simulations for the end of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries over Europe is used to show that the increasing intensity of the most damaging summer heat waves over Central Europe is mostly due to higher base summer temperatures. In this context, base temperature is defined as the mean of the seasonal cycle component for those calendar days when regional heat waves occur and is close, albeit not identical, to the mean temperature for July–August. Although 36–47% of future Central Europe July and August days at the end of the twenty-first century are projected to be extreme according to the present day climatology, specific changes in deseasonalized heat wave anomalies are projected to be relatively small. Instead, changes in summer base temperatures appear much larger, clearly identifiable and of the same order of magnitude as changes in the whole magnitude of heat waves. Our results bear important consequences for the predictability of central European heat wave intensity under global warming conditions.