A CENTURY from now, Spain and Italy will be enduring baking, parched summers while residents of central and north-west Europe will be experiencing what we now think of as Mediterranean warmth.
Reindert Haarsma and his team from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute in De Bilt used existing computer models to study changes in weather patterns resulting from the expected global warming. These indicated that summer temperatures in southern Europe would rise by 2 to 3 °C compared with today's, and that lack of rain would dry up the soils.
The hot, dry air above these arid soils would then rise and expand, creating a low-pressure zone over the region. Winds circulating anticlockwise around this zone would feed continental air to more northerly areas, raising temperatures there too (Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1029/2008GL036617).