Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 1825–1832 | Cite as

Increasingly warm summers in the Euro–Mediterranean zone: mean temperatures and extremes

  • Claudia Simolo
  • Michele Brunetti
  • Maurizio Maugeri
  • Teresa Nanni
Original Article


The recent increase in European temperatures led to a strong enhancement in the occurrence of extremely warm events, with relevant consequences for environment and everyday life. Here, we investigate the evolution of very intense warm and cold events in a south-western European zone during 1961–2007 at a seasonal level. Special attention is given to summertime when warming is the most pronounced. Using a previously developed theoretical model, we discuss how the average properties and long-term trends observed in probability density functions of daily temperatures can explain changes in the frequency of severe, isolated events. In this perspective, the recent intensification of extremely warm events, especially experienced by the Mediterranean zone, is proved to be well consistent with a pure shift of seasonal mean temperatures. On the other hand, any change in the second and higher distributional moments of daily temperatures is ruled out by the data, whereas the average values of these properties, that is, variability and asymmetry, do play a role by shaping the temporal behavior of very intense events.


Climate variability and change Extreme events Probability density functions Moments 


  1. Alexander LV, Zhang X, Peterson TC, Caesar J, Gleason B, Klein Tank AM G, Haylock M, Collins D, Trewin B, Rahimzadeh F, Tagipour A, Rupa Kumar K, Revadekar J, Griffiths G, Vincent L, Stephenson D B, Burn J, Aguilar E, Brunet M, Taylor M, New M, Zhai P, Rusticucci M, Vazquez-Aguirre JL (2006) Global observed changes in daily climate extremes of temperature and precipitation. J Geophys Res 111: D05109 doi:10.1029/2005JD006290 Google Scholar
  2. Azzalini A (2005) The skewnormal distribution and related multivariate families. Scand J Stat 32:159–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brunetti M, Maugeri M, Monti F, Nanni T (2006) Temperature and precipitation variability in Italy in the last two centuries from homogenized instrumental time series. Int J Climatol 26:345–381CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Della-Marta PM, Haylock MR, Luterbacher J, Wanner H (2007) Double length of western European summer heat waves since 1880. J Geophys Res 112:D15103 doi:10.1029/2007JD008510 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Diffenbaugh NS, Pal JS, Giorgi F, Gao X (2007) Heat stress intensification in the Mediterranean climate change hotspot. Geophys Res Lett 34:L11706 doi:10.1029/2007GL030000 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Fischer EM, Schär C (2009) Future changes in daily summer temperature variability: driving processes and role for temperature extremes. Clim Dyn 33(7):917–935. doi:10.1007/s00382-008-0473-8 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Fischer EM, Schär C (2010) Consistent geographical patterns of changes in high-impact European heatwaves. Nat Geosci 3:398–403CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Fischer EM, Seneviratne SI, Lüthi D, Schär C (2007) Contribution of land-atmosphere coupling to recent European summer heat waves. Geophys Res Lett 34:L06707. doi:10.1029/2006GL029068 Google Scholar
  9. Hirschi M, Seneviratne SI, Alexandrov V, Boberg F, Boroneant C, Christensen OB, Formayer H, Orlowsky B, Stepanek P (2011) Observational evidence for soil-moisture impact on hot extremes in southeastern Europe. Nat Geosci 4:17–21. doi:10.1038/ngeo1032 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hosking JRM (2006) On the characterization of distributions by their Lmoments. J Stat Plann Inference 136:193–198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Klein Tank AMG (2008) Algorithm Theoretical Basis Document (ATBD), European Climate Assessment & Dataset (ECA&D) project document, available from:
  12. Klein Tank AMG, Können GP (2003) Trends in indices of daily temperature and precipitation extremes in Europe, 1946–99. J Clim 16:3665–3680CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Klein Tank AMG, Können GP, Selten FM (2005) Signals of anthropogenic influence on European warming as seen in the trend patterns of daily temperature variance. Int J Climatol 25:1–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Klein Tank AMG, Wijngaard JB, Können GP, Böhm R, Demaree G, Gocheva A, Mileta M, Pashiardis S, Hejkrlik L, Kern-Hansen C, Heino R, Bessemoulin P, Muller-Westermeier G, Tzanakou M, Szalai S, Palsdottir T, Fitzgerald D, Rubin S, Capaldo M, Maugeri M, Leitass A, Bukantis A, Aberfeld R, Van Engelen AF V, Forland E, Mietus M, Coelho F, Mares C, Razuvaev V, Nieplova E, Cegnar T, Antonio Lopez J, Dahlstrom B, Moberg A, Kirchhofer W, Ceylan A, Pachaliuk O, Alexander LV, Petrovic P (2002) Daily dataset of 20th-century surface air temperature and precipitation series for the European Climate Assessment. Int J Climatol 22:1441–1453CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Klok EJ, Klein Tank AMG (2009) Updated and extended European dataset of daily climate observations. Int J Climatol 29(8):1182–1191. doi:10.1002/joc.1779 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kuglitsch FG, Toreti A, Xoplaki E, Della-Marta PM, Zerefos CS, Türke M, Luterbacher J (2010) Heat wave changes in the eastern Mediterranean since 1960. Geophys Res Lett 37:L04802 doi:10.1029/2009GL041841 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Moberg A, Jones PJ, Lister D, Walther A, Brunet M, Jacobeit J, Alexander LV, Della-Marta PM, Luterbacher J, Yiou P, Chen D, Klein Tank AMG, Saladie O, Sigro J, Aguilar E, Alexandersson H, Almarza C, Auer I, Barriendos M, Begert M, Bergstrom H, Bohm R, Butler CJ, Caesar J, Drebs A, Founda D, Gerstengarbe FW, Micela G, Maugeri M, Osterle H, Pandzic K, Petrakis M, Srnec L, Tolasz R, Tuomenvirta H, Werner PC, Linderholm H, Philipp A, Wanner H, Xoplaki E (2006) Indices for daily temperature and precipitation extremes in Europe analyzed for the period 1901–2000. J Geophys Res 111:D22106. doi:10.1029/2006JD007103 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Peterson TC, Folland C, Gruza G, Hogg W, Mokssit A, Plummer N (2001) Report on the activities of the working group on climate change detection and related rapporteurs 1998–2001, WMOTD 1071, 143 pp, World Meteorol. Org., Geneva, Switzerland. See also:
  19. Schär C, Vidale PL, Lüthi D, Frei C, Häberli C, Liniger MA, Appenzeller C (2004) The role of increasing temperature variability in European summer heatwaves. Nature 427:332–336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Scherrer SC, Appenzeller C, Liniger MA, Schär C (2005) European temperature distribution changes in observations and climate change scenarios. Geophys Res Lett 32:L19705. doi:10.1029/2005GL024108 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Simolo C, Brunetti M, Maugeri M, Nanni T (2011) Evolution of extreme temperatures in a warming climate. Geophys Res Lett 38:L16701. doi:10.1029/2011GL048437 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Simolo C, Brunetti M, Maugeri M, Nanni T (2012) Extreme summer temperatures in Western Europe. Adv Sci Res 8:5–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Simolo C, Brunetti M, Maugeri M, Nanni T, Speranza A (2010) Understanding climate change-induced variations in daily temperature distributions over Italy. J Geophys Res 115:D22110. doi:10.1029/2010JD014088 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Trenberth KE et al (2007) Observations: surface and atmospheric climate change, in Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. In: Solomon S et al (eds) Contribution of working group I to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, USAGoogle Scholar
  25. Vautard R, Yiou P, D’Andrea F, de Noblet N, Viovy N, Cassou C, Polcher J, Ciais P, Kageyama M, Fan Y (2007) Summertime European heat and drought waves induced by wintertime Mediterranean rainfall deficit. Geophys Res Lett 34:L07711 doi:10.1029/2006GL028001 CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claudia Simolo
    • 1
  • Michele Brunetti
    • 1
  • Maurizio Maugeri
    • 1
    • 2
  • Teresa Nanni
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (ISAC)National Research Council (CNR)BolognaItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento di FisicaUniversità degli Studi di MilanoMilanItaly

Personalised recommendations