Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union

Research Spotlight: Improved model reproduces the 2003 European heat wave



In August 2003, record-breaking temperatures raged across much of Europe. In France, maximum temperatures of 37°C (99°F) persisted for 9 days straight, the longest such stretch since 1873. About 40,000 deaths (14,000 in France alone) were attributed to the extreme heat and low humidity. Various climate conditions must come into alignment to produce extreme weather like the 2003 heat wave, and despite a concerted effort, forecasting models have so far been unable to accurately reproduce the event—including the modern European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) ensemble modeling system for seasonal forecasts, which went into operation in 2007. (Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1029/2010GL046455, 2011)