Sizzling heatwaves are likely to be a feature of the global climate for at least the next four years, say scientists.
Researchers found that both average ground and sea surface temperatures around the world could be abnormally high between 2018 and 2022.
The biggest factor driving the forecast was an increased likelihood of “extreme warm events”.
The research was carried out before the summer heatwaves that sent temperatures in the UK and other parts of the world soaring this year.
But the unusually hot weather was correctly predicted by the scientists, who said 2018 had a “high probability of having a warm anomaly” relative to the general effects of global warming.
Their paper, reported in the journal Nature Communications, was received for publication in January.
The new technique, called Procast (Probabilistic forecast), seeks to rationalise the inherently chaotic behaviour of systems such as the Earth’s climate.
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 scientists, led by Dr Florian Sevellec, from the University of Brest in France, wrote: “For 2018-2022, the probabilistic forecast indicates a warmer than normal period, with respect to the forced trend (of global warming).
“This will temporarily reinforce the long-term global warming trend.
“The coming warm period is associated with an increased likelihood of intense to extreme temperatures.”
Warm events affecting sea surface temperatures could increase the activity of tropical storms, said the scientists.