A new study in the Journal of Geophysical Research has some interesting implications for climate shifts in Europe (link to journal article). The dataset comes from 54 daily maximum temperature series from around Europe (Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom). According to the authors, after correcting for bias, between 1880 and 2005, the length of summer heat waves over western Europe has doubled and the frequency of hot days has almost tripled.
In terms of climate shifts, this really is quite something – particularly considering the analysis stopped in 2005, 2 years short of the record breaking heatwave across Europe, where a dozen people in Greece died in a heatwave described as the longest in over a hundred years, temperatures in Bulgaria reached above 45°C (115°F) resulting in over 18 deaths, and agriculture in Germany collapsed when farmers lost upto 80% of their crops (not to mention extensive forest fires from Portugal through to Sweden). Climate change anyone?