THE world is warming up faster than at any time in the past 100 years, according to a global climate forecast that reveals Britain will be 0.3C hotter by 2014.
Scientists at the Met Office's Hadley Centre have unveiled the first ten-year climate prediction model.
It shows at least half of the years 2009 to 2014 will be hotter than 1998, the warmest year on record. And their research predicts 2014 is likely to be 0.3C warmer globally than 2004. This is a sharp increase, as the average global temperature has risen by only 0.8C since 1900.
Dr Doug Smith, the study's leader, believes the prediction for the next decade will help people to understand how quickly climate change is happening.
He said the model would aid businesses and policy-makers to prepare for short-term climate change.
Dr Richard Dixon, the director of WWF Scotland, said he was not surprised by the findings, which he described as thought-provoking.
"The four warmest years in Scotland have been the last four years, in data that goes back nearly 100 years. Very clearly, Scotland is already showing this pattern they are predicting," he said. "That certainly is a spur for businesses and decision-makers to look at this."
The report interprets the effects of sea surface temperatures, and factors such as greenhouse gas emissions, projected changes in the sun's output and the effects of previous volcanic eruptions. It is the first time these variables have been combined to make a prediction.
Duncan McLaren, the chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said he was disturbed by the model.
"While at the moment the best predictions are that we will see this relatively gradual, linear change, there is also emerging good reason to be concerned that there might be more abrupt change within the coming decades as a result of greenhouse gas accumulation," he said.
"This adds further confirmation of the importance of continuing to reduce our emissions and making a better effort at it than we have been in the past."
He also called for concerted action from the governments at Holyrood and Westminster to take the lead on tackling climate change.
"So far, world leaders have not taken the collective action that is necessary. We in the UK and in Scotland must take whatever opportunity we have to set a good example," he said.
His call for action at Scottish government level was echoed by Dr Richard Dixon, who is optimistic the new Holyrood administration has an opportunity to push the issue forward.
"Potentially, we already have business and policy leaders who are taking notice of this problem. If they do deliver on what they promised, Scotland would be the leading country in the world to take real action on climate change," he said. "That would be a tremendous spur to global action."
In June, John Swinney, the Cabinet secretary for finance and sustainable growth, said he intended Scotland to lead the world in action to combat climate change, cutting carbon emissions to just 20 per cent of present levels by 2050.
He told the Scottish Parliament he was committed to an "ambitious" programme of cuts that would be an inspiration to the world and help to turn this country into "the green energy capital of Europe".
He stressed the commitment of Alex Salmond, the First Minister, to clean-coal technology, but faced criticism showing how his target could be achieved - and for not bringing in financial penalties for government departments and public bodies which miss carbon-emission targets.
The UK government has set an emissions reduction target of 60 per cent.
BLACK DAYS FOR THE ARCTIC
SOOT from industry and forest fires had a dramatic impact on the Arctic climate, starting around the time of the Industrial Revolution, researchers reported yesterday.
Industrial pollution brought a sevenfold increase in soot in Arctic snow during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, scientists at the Desert Research Institute found.
Soot, mostly from burning coal, reduces the reflectivity of snow and ice, letting Earth's surface absorb more solar energy and possibly resulting in earlier snow melts and exposure of underlying soil, rock and sea ice. This in turn led to warming across much of the Arctic region.
At its height from 1906 to 1910, estimated warming from soot on Arctic snow was eight times that of the pre-industrial era.