The Earth is headed for a record-setting heat wave after 2009, a team of U.K. climate experts said in the first such report based on observations from recent years.
Each year from 2010 through 2014 has at least a 50 percent chance of being warmer than 1998, the hottest on record, researchers led by Doug Smith of the Met Office, a government weather-forecasting agency based in Exeter, said Thursday in the journal Science.
The estimate is the first stemming from data collected since 1990 on ocean temperatures, heat-trapping gases and other factors. Other forecasters used information gathered from 1960 to 1990, the researchers said. By focusing on the next few years, rather than the longer time frame in earlier studies, the new report adds urgency to the challenge of reducing emissions that heat the atmosphere, Smith said.
“Global warming is a problem that needs some action sooner rather than later,” he said in a telephone interview Tuesday.
Smith said he has used the new data to estimate annual global average temperatures through 2037. The results for years beyond 2014, which haven’t been published, suggest that heat records will continue to be set after that.
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