Scorching year forecasted

GET ready for a scorching year as experts as predicting 2004 could be the hottest year on record.Scientists from the University of East Anglia are forecasting that next year will be the second warmest ever throughout the world.

GET ready for a scorching year as experts as predicting 2004 could be the hottest year on record.

Scientists from the University of East Anglia are forecasting that next year will be the second warmest ever throughout the world.

And there is a one in five chance of it being the hottest of all time.

A combination of greenhouse gas emissions and the El Nino cycle could take the average temperatures to an all-time high.

The global prediction for 2004 is for 0.5C above the average temperature – and although the summer of 2003 saw temperature records tumble in Britain and western Europe, globally this year wasn't the hottest ever.

Professor Phil Jones of the UEA's Climatic Research Unit said: "We would need an El Nino event to make it the warmest ever.

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"A lot of people are predicting one because there hasn't been one for a number of years, and they tend to happen every three to five years."

If such an event did occur certain areas of the world, notably Australia, South-East Asia and western America, would experience higher temperatures.

Prof Jones added: "There is a 20 per cent probability that 2004 would be as warm or warmer than 1998, which was the warmest on record at 0.55C above average.

"Apart from 1949, four of the five warmest years have been since 1990. You can put that down to the fact that the world is gradually warming due to a build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere."

But a forecast for East Anglia is not yet available as is it is not possible to produce more localised predictions.

This summer saw the mercury in thermometers rising to the highest levels ever and led to problems for many people, from rail passengers to farmers.

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