2010 is likely to be the world’s warmest year on record, the British Met Office has predicted.

According to the Met Office, man-made climate change will be a factor and natural weather patterns would contribute less to 2010’s temperature than they did in 1998, the current warmest year in the 160-year record.

El Niffect, the cyclical heating of the Pacific Ocean, is much weaker than it was in 1998, but the Met Office expects the warming effect of greenhouse gas emissions to more than make up the difference, The Times reported.

It predicts that the global average temperature next year to be almost 0.6°C warmer than the 1961 to 1990 average, and forecasts an annual average of 14.58°C.

The Met Office has also said that it expects half the years between 2010 and 2019 to be warmer than 1998. It sounded a note of caution, saying that a record year in 2010 was not a certainty, especially if the current El Niegan to decline earlier than normal or there was a large volcanic eruption.

However, experts are divided on the prediction.

Ben Stewart of Greenpeace said: “If 2010 turns out to be the hottest year on record, it might go some way towards exploding the myth, spread by the climate conspiracy theorists that we’re experiencing global cooling. In reality the world is getting possibly a lot hotter, and humans are causing it.”

But, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, has accused the Met Office of making a “political intervention” in the international negotiations taking place in Copenhagen.

“Suggestions by the Met Office that a warming trend will resume in the next year or two should be treated with reserve in light of the recognised difficulties in making such confident predictions,” it said.