The 10 years to the end of 2019 have been confirmed as the warmest decade on record by three global agencies.
The past five years were the hottest in the 170-year series, with the average of each one more than 1C warmer than pre-industrial. The Met Office says that 2019 was 1.05C above the average for the period from 1850-1900.
2016 remains the warmest year on record, when temperatures were boosted by the El Niño weather phenomenon.
Last year saw two major heat waves hit Europe in June and July, with a new national record of 46C set in France on 28 June. New records were also set in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and in the UK at 38.7C. In Australia, the mean summer temperature was the highest on record by almost a degree.
“Each decade from the 1980s has been successively warmer than all the decades that came before. 2019 concludes the warmest ‘cardinal’ decade (those spanning years ending 0-9) in records that stretch back to the mid-19th century,” said Dr Colin Morice, from the Met Office Hadley Centre.
Researchers say carbon emissions from human activities are the main cause of the sustained temperature rise seen in recent years.