World heading for warmest year yet - UK Met Office
"Globally 2002 is likely to be warmer than 2001, and may even break the record set in 1998," said Briony Horton, the Meteorological Office's climate research scientist.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the body that advises governments on long-term climatic variations, blames global warming, caused by rising emissions of greenhouse gases which trap heat in the atmosphere, for the rise in temperatures, a Met Office spokesman said.
"We agree with them," he told Reuters. "Since 1970 there has been a marked trend in the rise of global temperatures.
"The actual rise prior to 1970 was partly man-made and partly due to natural effects. But since 1970 scientists are in fairly general agreement that warming can be attributed to man's polluting activities."
The Met Office said global temperatures were 0.57 degrees Celsius (1.03 Fahrenheit) higher than the long term average of about 15 degrees (59F) in the period from January to June.
In the nearly 150 years since recording began, only in 1998 has the difference been higher, 0.6 degrees (1.08F), and that was caused by the influence of the El Nino weather phenomenon.
The figures also showed that the northern hemisphere had enjoyed its warmest ever half year, with temperatures 0.73 degrees (1.31F) above the long term average.
The Met Office spokesman said scientists predicted that, depending on the level of pollution, global temperatures would rise between 1.4 (2.52F) and as much as 5.9 degrees (10.62F) in the next 100 years.
"That's the worst case scenario and it would cause major problems of melting icecaps and tremendous flooding," he said.
The Met Office compiles its figures from data collected from observatories round the world, as well as from ships at sea.