15 Aug 2018

Extreme temps likely to continue until 2022 - study

8:14 am on 15 August 2018

Natural changes in the earth's temperature means the world is more likely to see extreme temperatures until 2022.

A woman lays along the boardwalk at Coney Island on a hot summer afternoon on August 7, 2018 in New York City.

A woman lays along the boardwalk at Coney Island on a hot summer afternoon on August 7, 2018 in New York City. Photo: AFP

That's according to a new climate modelling study from UK and Dutch researchers published in Nature Communications. They found a natural variation in the world's climate, intensified by the man-made warming of the planet, will bring up global temperatures.

These natural changes took place as part of the cooling and heating of the planet's oceans, NIWA's chief scientist of Climate, Atmosphere and Hazards Sam Dean said.

"We've had quite a long period of what we called a hiatus where temperatures were a little bit cooler than you'd be expecting from the underlying climate change trend.

"The last few years, we've had some really hot years, which were above that trend and this model is predicting that's likely to carry on for a few more years," he said.

This year the heatwave in Europe saw wildfires increase by as much as a 25 percent.

But, Dr Dean said the impact on New Zealand would depend on a range of factors.

"Our temperatures are quite dependent on whether we get a lot of northerlies or southerlies, but if the globe is likely to have warmer than average temperatures for the next few years, then it's likely New Zealand will have warmer than average temperatures," he said.

He added the latest findings were supported by other studies, that have come to a similar conclusion.

Victoria University Professor James Renwick said warmer temperatures affected the intensity of tropical cyclones.

"For New Zealand when they drift out of the tropics, it is a bit of a lottery as to whether they'll head towards us, but if they do the chances are they'll be more intense and do more damage when they pass over," he said.

Professor Renwick, from Victoria's school of geography, environment and earth sciences, warned the consequences of a warmer climate were an indication of what was to come.

"The expectation for New Zealand for the rest of the century, is we will see quite an increase in forest fires and high temperature extremes and droughts, as well as floods," he said.

He said the hottest year on record in 2016, would only become the norm by 2040, if action was not taken to reduce greenhouse emissions.

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