The summer of 2018 has been marked by record-breaking
heat across the globe. But if you’re already sweating now, you might want to prepare yourself for the next four years as well, according to new global forecasting research.
The study, published Tuesday in the journal
Nature Communications, predicts that the years between 2018-2022 will likely be “anomalously warm,” and reinforces long-term climate change trends.
“The coming warm period is associated with an increased likelihood of intense to
extreme temperatures,” researchers Florian Sévellec of the Laboratory of Ocean Physics and Remote Sensing at University Brest in France, and Sybren Drijfhout at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute in De Bilt, in the Netherlands wrote in their paper.
The authors clarified that their research only predicts warmer temperatures on a broad global scale, meaning individual regions might not necessarily experience more heat waves.
“We are not predicting another heat wave—a warmer year doesn’t always mean (that),” lead author Sévellec told
DW. But “overall, it’s more likely to be warm than cold.”
For the study, the researchers used a new statistical approach called Probabilistic forecast, or Procast, to “rationalize the chaotic behavior” of Earth’s climate. As the Evening Standard explained: “It involves gathering information from previous changes in a system’s state to calculate the probabilistic chances of transitions to future new states. A retrospective test of the method accurately predicted the global warming pause, or ‘hiatus,’ between 1998 and 2013.”
The researchers concluded that between 2018 and 2022, there’s a 58 percent chance that the earth’s surface temperature will be exceptionally warm, and a 69 percent chance that the oceans will be anomalously warm in that same period.
What’s more, the researchers said there could also be a “dramatic increase [in likelihood] of up to 400 percent” that Earth’s oceans will experience “extreme warm events” during 2018 to 2022.
Gabi Hegerl, professor of climate system science at the University of Edinburgh, who was not involved in the study, told BBC News that the researchers “skilfully used worldwide climate model data for previous years to calculate probabilities for the next few years.”
However, Gavin Schmidt, who directs the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, commented to
The Washington Post that the size of their predicted warming effect is not very large.
“Let’s be clear, being 58 percent confident that 2018 will be 0.02ºC above the forced trend … is not practically significant (even if it might be skillful),” Schmidt wrote in an email.
Scientists Warn We May Be on Track for '#HothouseEarth' https://t.co/PUA53qtTA3 #ClimateChange #GlobalWarming @DavidSuzukiFDN @Connect4Climate
— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch) August 8, 2018