The heat wave that swept parts of Europe last summer was an anomaly. Parisians in particular are surely hoping it doesn't repeat itself this summer, considering temperatures in the city routinely reached around 40 degrees Celsius for more than 10 days. Findings published online today by the journal Nature, however, do not provide any solace. A new climate model predicts more extreme temperature events for Europe in the coming decades.

Christoph Schar of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and his colleagues investigated the effects of greenhouse gases on weather variability as well as general overall temperatures. Their results suggest not only that temperatures in central Europe will rise over the next century but also that temperatures will show more variability. In this scenario, extreme summers like the one that befell France in 2003 are more common.

Our results demonstrate that the European summer climate might experience a pronounced increase in year-to-year variability in response to greenhouse-gas forcing, the scientists write. Such an escalation, they conclude, would strongly affect the incidence of heat waves and droughts in the future.