for National Geographic News
An El Niño weather phenomenon combined with high levels of greenhouse gases are likely to make 2007 the warmest year ever recorded, British climate scientists said today.
U.S. government scientists agree with the assessment.
According to the British forecasters, 2007 will probably be 0.97 degree Fahrenheit (0.54 degree Celsius) above the long-term average of 57 degrees Fahrenheit (14 degrees Celsius).
The current record holder, 1998, was 0.94 degree Fahrenheit (0.52 degree Celsius) above the long-term average. (The average is calculated from the years 1961 to 1990.)
This is the seventh year that the United Kingdom Met Office's Hadley Centre for Climate Change in Devon has released their forecast. Over the years the forecast has been remarkably accurate, with a margin of error of 0.1 degree Fahrenheit (0.06 degree Celsius).
According to the researchers, there is a 60 percent chance that 2007 will be the warmest on record. (Related: "Global Warming Likely Causing More Heat Waves, Scientists Say" [August 1, 2006].)
David Parker is a climate-variability scientist with the Hadley Centre who helped prepare the forecast.
The new calculations add to the "ongoing evidence that global warming is real and is sort of getting worse," he said.
According to Parker, 2007's record-breaking warmth will result from an El Niño weather pattern that is riding on top of warmer global temperatures caused by greenhouse gas emissions. (Related: "Hurricane Season May Fizzle Further Due to El Nino" [September 5, 2006].)
El Niño is a periodic warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean off the northwest coast of South America that affects climate all around the globe.
"It puts more heat into the air, and that gets carried around the world by the wind," Parker said.
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