Outlook for 5 years picks heat to rise

The current El Nino - a meteorological event in which a band of warm water develops in the Pacific Ocean around the equator - is about to peak. Photo / Alan Gibson
The current El Nino - a meteorological event in which a band of warm water develops in the Pacific Ocean around the equator - is about to peak. Photo / Alan Gibson

Global temperatures will continue to soar over the next year as rising levels of greenhouse gas emissions and El Nino combine to bring more record-breaking warmth to the planet.

According to the Met Office's forecast for the next five years, this year is likely to be the warmest since records began. Next year there will be a dip as the effects of El Nino dissipate, but after that, and for the remainder of the decade, the world will experience more warming. The forecast, which is to be put out this week, is the first such report since the Met Office overhauled its near-term climate prediction system last year.

"We cannot say exactly how hot 2018, 2019 or 2020 will be. That will depend on other variables. But the general trend is going to be upwards," said Doug Smith, a Met Office expert on long-term forecasting.

The current El Nino - a meteorological event in which a band of warm water develops in the Pacific Ocean around the equator - is about to peak. However, global warming associated with the event normally lags several months, so 2016 could be hotter than 2015, the warmest year on record.

Some climate change deniers have claimed the current El Nino alone was responsible for making last year a record one, with the effects of carbon emissions being irrelevant. Smith rejects these claims.

"We have had El Ninos before," he said. "The one in 1997-98 was particularly intense. Nevertheless, global temperatures were less then than they were in 2015 - and that is because background heating caused by increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are higher today than they were in 1997-98."

- Guardian News & Media

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