Another 4 unusually hot years ahead, scientists expect

After this year's hot summer, the Netherlands and the rest of the world can expect another four unusually warm years, according to a new statistical analysis of the world temperature by Sybren Drijfhout of the Dutch meteorological institute KNMI and French colleague Florian Sevellec from the University of Brest, the Volkskrant reports.

From this year until at least 2022 the earth is in the grips of a "warm anomaly", on top of the steadily progressing global warming caused by greenhouse gasses, according to the two scientists. This adds only a few hundredth of a degree to temperature world wide, but can still translate into heat waves, drought or extreme hurricane activity, Drijfhout expects. 

Predicting the weather years into the future is hard to do. Weather models do not look that far into the future, and climate models provide only an overall picture, not precise figures. Drijfhout and Sevellec solved this problem by carefully studying how the temperature changes from year to year by natural variation. They produced a simple model that looks about five years into the future, according to the newspaper.

That model currently shows a 70 percent chance that it will be extra warm until 2022. Drijfhout believes that this is a backlash of the so-called 'gap' in global warming between 2000 and 2014. It seems that extra heat was absorbed by the oceans during the gap. And now that extra heat could still enter the atmosphere", he said to the Volksrant. 

Drijfhout and Sevellec have high hopes for their model, already seeing some positive results. At the end of last year they used their model to predict that 2018 will be an exceptionally warm year. "That is of course anecdotal evidence", Drijfhout said to the newspaper. "But it seems that our expectations are coming true." That gave him mixed feelings. "Of course it is encouraging for our model. But in the meantime my garden is dying."

The Dutch meteorologist adds that these predictions are not set in stones - a violent volcanic eruption or other unforeseen circumstances may upset the prognosis. "Unfortunately the climate is never 100% predictable." But he is still optimistic that this model could eventually be used to make predictions for certain continents or regions for years ahead. "It is a first step. A prototype of something that has yet to come on the market."