The world is likely to see a return to rapid warming in the next couple of years, scientists said, in what could signal the end of the “pause” in rising global temperatures.
Experts said big changes were under way in the Earth’s climate system, with a natural phenomenon known as El Nino combining with the impact of greenhouse gases to push global temperatures to record highs.
But other changes in the Atlantic Ocean over the coming decades could make relatively cooler and possibly drier summers in the UK and northern Europe more likely.
In the run-up to key United Nations talks in Paris, at which it is hoped a new international agreement to tackle climate change can be agreed, “the signal is very clear” that global warming is happening.
The world has witnessed a slowdown or “pause” in rising temperatures in recent years, which sceptics pointed to as contradicting evidence of ongoing climate change.
The new report from the Met Office, which has been peer-reviewed by the University of Reading’s Professor Rowan Sutton, suggests the world is warming again.
Prof Scaife said experts could not be sure it was the end of the slowdown.
However, rates of warming averaged over decades were likely to reach the high levels seen at the end of the 20th century, when the world was warming rapidly, within two years.
The years 2014, 2015 and 2016 are all likely to be at or near record levels, in part due to the influence of the El Nino phenomenon of surface warming in the Pacific Ocean.
Scientists are very confident there is now a major El Nino under way, which is set to peak this winter, on the scale of an El Nino event in 1998 which helped drive global temperatures to record highs.
But Prof Scaife said natural variations such as El Nino were just the “icing on the cake” on top of human activity which is putting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and driving climate change.
Reminder: Met Office Global Warming Prediction Falls Flat
In 2007, a team of Met Office scientists predicted there would be 0.3°C warming during 2004-2014. This prediction has turned out to be wrong. We are almost into 2014 and there has been no warming at all since 2004.