Europe might not be hot right now, but give it a few months.
In a paper published in Environmental Research Letters, researchers found that Europe’s last stretch of summers has been hotter than anything in the past 2100 years.
By looking at historical records and tree rings scientists were able to piece together a climate history of Europe stretching back over 2000 years. Trees are particularly important record keepers for dendrochronologists or people that study tree rings. Trees grow slowly, adding a new ‘layer’ to their interior as they cycle through winters and summers. These tree rings can grow unevenly depending on environmental conditions like precipitation, fires, and even temperature. By piecing together records of trees from all over Europe, researchers can get a better idea of how climate in the region has changed over time.
They found that the current summer temperatures in Europe were hotter than any before in their natural records, an assertion backed up by the record heat waves that left Europeans sweltering in 2003, 2010, and last year. 2015 in addition to bringing a scorcher of a summer to Europe, smashed records around the globe, coming in as the warmest in our historical records, but those only date back to 1880.
According to the research, the only times that even approached the heat of the past several European summers were a few times in the 1st and 10th centuries BC, which had summers that were almost as warm as the 20th century, but still didn’t approach the heat of the 30 year period of summers between 1986 and 2015.
“We now have a detailed picture of how summer temperatures have changed over Europe for more than two thousand years and we can use that to test the climate models that are used to predict the impacts of future global warming,” the lead author of the study, Professor Jürg Luterbacher said.
As scientists look into the future, and countries attempt to tamp down the anthropogenic effects on global warming, the European population is enjoying the winter chill before the heat wave. Stay cool, Europe.