To put the 2010 heat wave in perspective, the researchers compared it with other temperature anomalies reaching back to 1871, in terms of length, spatial extent and temperature. They say that at least two summers in this decade—2003 and 2010—have most likely been the warmest of the last 510 years in Europe.The chart above shows a statistical distribution of the European summer temperature departures from the 1970-1999 base period. Each year from 1500 to 2010 is shown as a vertical line, with the 5 coldest and 5 warmest summers highlighted and labeled. The gray line shows the frequency distribution from 1500 through 2002, with a Gaussian (random) distribution fitted to the data in black. The lower chart shows the distribution of extreme summers (95th percentile or higher) per decade. Note the huge spike upward for decades ending in the current century.
"During the 2001-2010 decade, 500-year long records were broken over approximately 65% of Europe, including eastern Europe, southwestern-central Europe, the Balkans and Turkey," they report.
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