Using a new mathematical formula called “Heat Wave Magnitude daily”, the researchers modelled the magnitudes of past heat waves and used the results to predict the duration and intensity of future heat waves.
Based on their findings, they expect heat waves will rise in both “severity and number” across the continent over the net 20 years. The study is published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.
"Even if global mean temperatures don't increase too much, we'll see more extreme heat events," said Simone Russo, one of the paper's lead authors. "These will be hotter, longer, and more frequent."
In July this year, the UK experienced its hottest July day since records began. The researchers looked at this exceptionally warm 2015 weather, and compared it with the top 10 European heat waves since 1950.
They found that while the 2015 summer heatwave had a lower magnitude than the heat wave that occurred in 2003, it was comparable to other heat waves.
"Its largest anomalies [higher than average temperature] and duration were recorded in Switzerland in July, and Germany in August" Russo added. "Its spatial extent was comparable to a heat wave that occurred in Greece in 2007, one in Central Europe in 1994 and one in Scandinavian last year".