LONDON: The world is on course to have its hottest year on record, according to climate change experts who fear global warming is set to send temperatures soaring.
There have already been a number of temperatures records set in 2015 with Antarctica experiencing its two warmest days ever recorded in March this year.
Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Venezuela and Laos have all set national temperature records in the past five months while globally January to April this year has been the warmest on record at 0.68°C above average.
Climate change scientists now fear this could mark the end of a so-called 18-year ‘pause’ in global warming, which has seen temperatures remain relatively flat.
The past 12 months have already been the warmest on record, suggesting temperatures are beginning to rise again.
Professor Adam Scaife, who leads the monthly to decadal climate prediction research at the Met Office, said: ‘There’s a pretty good chance of the global record being broken this year.
‘Last December we forecast that this year would set a new record, around 0.64°C above the norm, and global temperatures are higher so far this year than at this stage in 2014.’
Meteorologists have already confirmed that a growing El Nino in the Pacific Ocean is likely to lead to a fall in rainfall in the tropics and droughts across Africa and India.
El Nino events tend to warm the Earth’s atmosphere by supressing the upwelling of cold water from the ocean that can absorb excess heat.
However, the El Nino could also bring bitter winter conditions to the north of Europe and the UK.
Despite this, researchers believe 2015 could now become the warmest on record since 1880.
According to global measurements by Nasa, 2014 is currently the warmest on record with global land and sea temperatures reaching 0.68°C (1.24°F) above the long term average.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the US reports that January to April this year has already surpassed the previous records for the same period.
Global land and sea surface temperatures were 0.80°C (1.44°F) above the 20th century average.
Sea ice in the Arctic has also been at its lowest recorded level during the winter maximum.
This has sparked fears the darker ocean will trigger a feedback loop by absorbing more of the sun’s heat.
However, by April the extent of the sea ice in the Arctic was the second lowest in the 36-year satellite record, covering 5.4 million square miles, 313,000 square miles (810,666 square km) below the average.
Writing for website Weather Underground, meteorologist Dr Jeff Masters said: ‘As of May 18, 2015, eight nations or territories have tied or set all-time records for their hottest temperature in recorded history thus far in 2015, and one (Israel) has set an all-time cold temperature record.
‘For comparison, only two nations or territories set all-time heat records in 2014, and nine did in 2013.’
The pause in global warming seen in recent years has been seized up on by climate change sceptics as evidence that the Earth’s climate is warming far less than scientists predicted.