Fri, December 11, 2009
World > Europe

British government's weather office forecasts 2010 hottest year on record

2009-12-11 21:53:36 GMT2009-12-12 05:53:36 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

LONDON, Dec. 11 (Xinhua) -- The British government's weather office on Friday predicted that 2010 will be the warmest year on record around the world because of the effects of global warming.

The Met Office said 2009 is expected to be the fifth-warmest year on record and that it expected 2010 to be warmer still.

"A combination of man-made global warming and a moderate warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean, a phenomenon known as El Nino, means it is very likely that 2010 will be a warmer year globally than 2009," said the Met Office in a statement.

"The latest forecast from our climate scientists, shows the global temperature is forecast to be almost 0.6 degrees centigrade above the 1961-1990 long-term average. This means that it is more likely than not that 2010 will be the warmest year in the instrumental record, beating the previous record year, which was 1998," the statement said.

However, the Met Office cautioned that a record warm year in 2010 is not a certainty, especially if the current El Nino was to unexpectedly decline rapidly near the start of 2010, or if there was a large volcanic eruption. There were voices critical of the Met Office's prediction. The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) criticized the Met Office and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) for attempting a political intervention in the Copenhagen summit.

"We are very concerned that both agencies have overstepped their scientific remits, which are supposed to provide governments with balanced advice and empirical data, and not to lobby politically," Benny Peiser, the director of the GWPF said.

"The world's major scientific journals agree that since 2001 the global average temperature has been constant. We live in a warm decade and the world is reacting to that warmth but, contrary to predictions, the world isn't getting any warmer at the moment," David Whitehouse, the GWPF's science editor, said.

The Met Office, in collaboration with the University of East Anglia, maintains a global temperature record which is used in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and it is a key adviser to that body. Each December or January the Met Office, working with the University of East Anglia, issues a forecast of the global surface temperature for the coming year.

The forecast takes into account known contributing factors, such as El Nino and La Nina (both are temperature changes in the tropical Pacific for long periods; increased temperature periods are El Nino, and decreased are El Nina), increasing greenhouse gas concentrations, the cooling influences of industrial aerosol particles, solar effects, volcanic cooling effects if known, and natural variations of the oceans.

Over the 10 years 20002009 since the Met Office issued forecasts of annual global temperature, the forecast has been close to the eventual reality, with a mean value of the error being 0.06 C. The Met Office also said that its experimental forecast for the coming decade confirmed previous indications that about half the years 20102019 are set to be warmer than the warmest year (1998) yet on record.

As an example of how much and how quickly temperatures have risen, the Met Office said the mean average temperature between 1961 and 1990 was 14 degrees centigrade, and that its forecast for 2010 was 14.58 degrees centigrade. That would make 2010 the hottest year yet, beating the current record of 14.52 degrees centigrade.

Britain's Met Office was founded in 1854 and is one of the world's leading weather forecasting agencies. It was formerly known as the Meteorological Office, and is based in the city of Exeter in England's West Country.

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