A major El Niño event in the Pacific could heat the world overall next year
This would signal an end to the slowdown in global warming, say experts.
As the globe battles heatwaves, however, British summers could get cooler.
North Atlantic sea temperatures which are expected to drop by around half a degree over the next decade, causing cooler summers.
2015 is already the hottest year on record but experts are predicting 2016 will be even warmer as heatwaves sweep the planet.
Researchers claim a major El Niño event in the Pacific could significantly increase global temperatures, marking an end to the slowdown in global warming.
But as the world battles these heatwaves over the next decade, summers in the UK and Europe may become cooler.
The findings seem to contradict the argument of climate sceptics that the slowdown in the rate of global warming over the past 17 years, proves scientists’ concerns about a warming world are exaggerated, The Independent reported.
Scientists said that in 2015, the Earth’s average surface temperature has been approximately 0.68ºC above the 1961 to 1990 average – a high since records began.
We know natural patterns contribute to global temperatures in any given year, but the very warm temperatures so far this year indicate the continued impact of (manmade) greenhouse gases,’ Met Office Hadley Centre director Professor Stephen Belcher
‘With the potential that next year could be similarly warm, it’s clear that our climate continues to change.’
External reviewer, Professor Rowan Sutton, from the University of Reading, added: ‘Unless there’s a big volcanic eruption, it looks very likely that globally 2014, 2015 and 2016 will be among the very warmest years ever recorded.’
Professor Adam Scaife of the Met Office told the BBC: ‘It’s an important turning point in the Earth’s climate with so many big changes happening at once.’
The research predicts the world has entered into what could be one of the strongest El Niño events in the past century, warming the Pacific Ocean and the rest of the world in turn.
While the shift in weather patterns is natural, El Niño’s effect on the temperature is becoming greater, because of the rising volume of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
The trend could trigger potentially deadly droughts, heat waves and other extreme weather events in some parts of the world, but could also mean British summers will become cooler over the next decade.
This is because temperatures in the north Atlantic ocean are expected to drop by around half a degree over the next decade.
While this does not sound like much, it could be enough to cool British summers by an average of 1ºC over ten years.
And at the same time, the UK’s tendency for wet summers could be about to change, with far fewer showers ahead.
The Met Office has had a controversial record on forecasting summer weather.
In April 2009, it predicted that Britain was ‘odds-on for a barbecue summer’ – which instead went on to be one of the wettest on record.
Professor Scaife, of the Met Office’s Hadley Centre for long-range forecasting, said sea temperatures in the north Atlantic have risen in recent years, but are now expected to fall.
He told the Daily Mail the cooling effect on the UK was likely to be ‘less than a degree’, adding that other influences – such as global warming and El Niño could possibly cancel out the temperature drop.
Professor Sutton told a press conference: ‘Let me be absolutely clear: This does not mean we are heading for the next ice age.
‘Absolutely not. We are talking about a modest cooling. Maybe half a degree centigrade for example in the north Atlantic.
‘That might not sound very much but it is potentially enough to affect weather patterns in Europe and elsewhere.’
He said that a drop in Atlantic temperatures ‘favours cooler and possibly drier summers in northern Europe’. British summers could be ‘significantly drier’, he added.
Professor Sutton also said it was too early to tell whether the slower global warming seen in the past ten years – sometimes called the ‘global warming slowdown’ – was coming to an end.
While average temperatures worldwide have risen in the past decade, increases have been far slower than they were in the last 30 years of the 20th century.
The experts said other factors that could affect our weather include a potential volcanic eruption – when ash blocks out the sun’s rays causing cooler temperatures.
The El Niño phenomenon is also likely to raise temperatures in the Pacific by 2-3ºC.
The knock-on effects of this could heighten the risk of a particularly cold end to winter in the UK, forecasters said.