2007 to Be Warmest Year on Record, Forecasters Say

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This warm El Niño air adds to global temperatures already boosted by increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, he added.

Scientists believe greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide produced from the burning of coal and oil, are driving up global temperatures by nearly 0.36 degree Fahrenheit (0.2 degree Celsius) per decade, Parker said.

So when El Niño warming combines with greenhouse gas warming, record-breaking heat is likely.

"Generally the greenhouse gas warming provides the long-term warming and the El Niño provides the interannual variability," Parker said.

There was a strong El Niño in 1998, the current warmest-year record holder.

U.S. Agreement

Thomas Karl is the director of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina.

He said the British forecast makes sense given the moderate El Niño already in place.

"This, in combination with the observed and projected increases in atmospheric greenhouse gases, will likely produce a record warm year in 2007, averaged across the globe," he said by email.

Karl added that with each succeeding El Niño event, new warmest-year records are likely to be set.

"This does not imply that it is only during El Niños we could see new record highs. But in general temperatures will continue to rise as greenhouse gases increase," he said.

But, he added, a major volcanic eruption could throw thick clouds of light-blocking chemicals into the air and "upset such a prediction."

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