SOURCE: Climate Central
DATE: July 14, 2017
SNIP: When 2015 blew the record for hottest year out of the water, it made headlines around the world. But a heat record that was so remarkable only two years ago will be just another year by 2040 at the latest, and possibly as early as 2020, regardless of whether the greenhouse gas emissions warming the planet are curtailed.
“At the moment, it doesn’t seem like such a big deal when we have record-hot summers or years,” study leader Sophie Lewis, a climate researcher at Australian National University, said in an email. “But this study really shows the nasty side of our current records becoming more frequent in the near future.”
The team used the climate models developed for the most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to see when a global temperature like that of 2015, or higher, becomes normal. When such temperatures happened at least half the time in a 20-year period, they defined that normal as having been reached in the first year of the period.
The researchers found that the global climate firmly met that threshold by 2040, regardless of whether greenhouse gas emissions continued on their current path or were significantly curtailed. On average, the new normal emerged between 2020 and 2030 — much earlier than any of the scientists expected.
“I was shocked when I made the first calculations for this study, and went back and checked everything twice and then three times,” Lewis said. “When I first shared a full draft with my co-authors, I remember getting an edit back that included a swear word in the comments about these times.”