Washington, August 13 : Scientists from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute have used a statistical method to suggest that by the end of this century, temperatures may reach 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees F) in northeastern India and most of Australia.
The researchers, motivated by Western Europe's exceptionally hot summers of 2003 and 2006, used an ensemble of climate models to investigate changes in extreme values of climate variables.
Using a statistical method for determining return intervals for extreme events, the authors found that the recurrence time for extremely high temperatures will not only increase as average temperatures rise, but will also increase at a faster rate than rising average temperatures.
After correcting for model biases, the authors also find that by the end of this century, extreme temperatures will far exceed 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in southern Europe and the US Midwest.
It may even reach 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees F) in northeastern India and most of Australia.
Because any point on land within roughly 40 degrees of the equator will have a 10 percent chance of exceeding 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees F) every decade by the end of this century, the authors urge that the risk to populations be taken very seriously.
Assessing and predicting the frequency and strength of extreme climate events will prove critical to determining the consequences of future climate change.