The world is likely to see a new record hot year within the next five years as temperatures continue to climb, the Met Office has said.
Global temperatures for each individual year between 2020 and 2024 are expected to be between 1.06C and 1.62C above the conditions the world saw in pre-industrial times, analysis shows.
It means the current record for the hottest year, set in 2016 with 1.16C of warming, is likely to be broken.
The five-year period as a whole from 2020 to 2024 is also expected to be the hottest five years on record globally, with temperatures over the period predicted to be between 1.15C and 1.46C above pre-industrial levels.
That compares to the temperature over the last five years, 2015-2019, which showed an average warming of 1.09C, making them currently the warmest such period on record, the Met Office said.
Rising global temperatures, compared to a pre-industrial average between 1850 and 1900, are consistent with continued high levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere warming the planet, the Met Office said.
The forecast, which is based on Met Office computer models, also estimates there is less than a one in 10 chance any single year in the next five years will breach the key threshold of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.
The UN’s climate science body has warned of the dangers of allowing global warming of more than 1.5C, and countries have committed under the Paris climate deal to “pursue efforts” to prevent temperatures rising by more than that amount.
But while there is less than a 10% chance of the 1.5C threshold being exceeded in the next five years, Met Office head of long-range prediction Professor Adam Scaife said that moment was rapidly approaching.
“Barring a large volcanic eruption, these predictions show that we are rapidly approaching the point where we will see temporary excursions of global temperature above the 1.5C threshold,” he said.
Professor Stephen Belcher, Met Office chief scientist, said going over 1.5C in an individual year did not mean the Paris Agreement would be breached, as the scientists recommended curbing temperature rises to 1.5C over the long term.
But he warned: “However, with our forecast showing a further warming trend, the window of opportunity continues to narrow.”
Dr Doug Smith, a Met Office fellow and expert on decadal prediction, said: “The latest five-year forecast suggests continued warming, consistent with sustained high levels of greenhouse gases.
“Uncertainties exist within the forecast, but most regions are expected to be warmer and forecast patterns suggest enhanced warming over land, especially northern parts of Europe, Asia and North America – extending the ongoing trend.”
The forecast also suggests current relatively cool conditions in the north Atlantic are predicted to warm, potentially exacerbating warming over Europe.