Extreme Hot Weather More Likely In Next Four Years, Scientists Say

Children cool off in a fountain outside the Southbank Centre during a heatwave in London

Stifling heatwaves are likely to be a feature of the global climate for at least the next four years, scientists say.

The biggest factor driving the forecast was an increased likelihood of "extreme warm events" - but the researchers also noted that while it would reinforce the general global warming trends, this specific rise is expected to be temporary.

The prediction comes as a severe and prolonged heatwave sweeps the northern hemisphere.

It takes into account external forces affecting global mean surface temperature, such as greenhouse gases and aerosols, which follow certain socio-economic scenarios, as well as natural variability, which is harder to predict, they said in a statement.

"Everything seems to be adding up", said the author of the paper, Florian Sevellec of the French National Center for Scientific Research.

"There is a high possibility that we will be at the peak of a warm phase for the next couple of years". Rather, it was a cooling phase in these natural climate variations that largely offset the impacts of man-made climate change in the 2000s.


He cautions that this should not be seen as a prediction that Europe will definitely have more heatwaves, the U.S. more forest fires, South Africa more drought or the Arctic more ice melt. As a scientist, this is frightening because we don't consider it enough.

By studying pre-existing simulations from previous centuries and looking for similarities to current climate change conditions, the team could draw conclusions from results with "good reliability".

Others, however, warned of the model's limitations.

What this may mean in reality is a continuation of a years-long hot spell.

Over the next five years the world reign of heat waves and warm winters. But their method is purely statistical, so it's important to see what climate models predict based on everything we know about the atmosphere and the oceans.

But Gabi Hegerl, professor of climate system science at the University of Edinburgh, warned the global system is not now able to predict heatwaves like the one seen in the United Kingdom this summer.

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