A new study published in the journal Science Wednesday indicates the extreme intensity of the heat wave over Eastern Europe last summer probably made 2010 the hottest summer in Europe in more than 500 years.

Science magazine reports:

“David Barriopedro from the University of Lisbon in Portugal and colleagues from across Europe have analyzed the available data and concluded that the 2010 heat wave was even hotter and more widespread than the European summer heat wave of 2003.”

Both the 2003 and 2010 summers broke 500-year-long records over about half of Europe, the study said.

The impacts of the 2010 heatwave in Eastern Europe were devastating. Science magazine indicates more than 55,000 heat-related deaths occurred in Russia alone as well as an annual crop failure of about 25%, equivalent to a 1% losses in the country’s gross domestic product. For its part, the 2003 heatwave resulted in about 15,000 deaths in France alone, and thousands more in other parts of Europe.

The study projects a five to 10-fold increase in “mega-heatwaves” within the next 40 years largely due to increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. But the study finds a repeat of the 2010 heatwave, due to its extreme magnitude and duration, isn’t statistically likely until the second half of the 21st century.

This study follows on the heels of a study from NOAA which found consistent results. The study, “Was There a Basis for Anticipating the 2010 Russian Heat Wave?”, by Randall Dole and colleagues concludes: “...results suggest that we may be on the cusp of a period in which the probability of such [extreme] events [like the 2010 Russian heat wave] increases.”

Joe Romm, who runs the blog Climate Progress, analyzed the model results published in the Dole et al. study and noted “temperatures will match [levels from 2010 heat wave] by the 2060s once a decade — twice a decade by century’s end.”

During the 2010 Russian heatwave, temperatures in July were nine degrees Fahrenheit (five degrees Celsisus) above average.

Hat tip: CapitalClimate