British Experts Say
1998 Is The Warmest
Year on Record So Far
LONDON (Reuters) - The first six months of 1998 were the warmest first half of a year globally since records began -- and El Nino was not the only cause, British weather experts said on Tuesday.
Provisional data analyzed by the Meteorological Office and the University of East Anglia show that the temperature between January and June averaged 0.6 degree Celsius more than the 1961-1990 average.
Moreover, each month so far this year has been the warmest since reliable records were first kept in 1860.
The warmest full year so far was in 1997, when temperatures were 0.43 degree Celsius higher than the long-run average, but the researchers said the record was likely to be broken again this year.
"It is already seems likely that 1998 will indeed be warmer than 1997," said Dr. Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit.
"The margin depends on the rate at which the warm El Nino is replaced with cool sea temperatures in the same region -- La Nina," he added.
Although El Nino, the natural periodic warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean, has been a major contributor to the warm spell, the researchers said it was not the only cause.
The global average temperature in 1877/78, when there was a powerful El Nino, was 0.5 degree below today's average, they said.
"The cause of the underlying warming over the course of this century is not fully understood, but there is increasing evidence that human activities, through the release of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels, play a part," the Met Office said.

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