2010 'second hottest year on record'

Last year was the second warmest on record, figures from the Met Office and the University of East Anglia show.

According to the data, global temperatures in 2010 averaged 14.5C, making it the second hottest year since records began in 1850 and leaving 1998 in the top spot.

But the two other leading sets of global temperature data from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the US both found that 2010 was the hottest or joint hottest year on record, with 2005 coming in second.

While in the UK 2010 was the coldest year since 1986 and the 12th coldest in the past century, the Met Office said very few parts of the world were significantly colder than usual during the year.

The northern hemisphere experienced its warmest ever year with the average temperature 0.69C above the 1961-1990 average.

Global temperatures have been heavily influenced by weather patterns in the Pacific with an El Nino, which has a warming effect, at the beginning of the year, replaced by the strongest La Nina, which cools the climate, for more than 30 years.

Professor Phil Jones, director of research at the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit, added: "The warmest 10 years in all three datasets are the same and have all occurred since 1998.

"The last 10 years 2001-2010 were warmer than the previous 10 years (1991-2000) by 0.2C."