The next five years are expected to be the hottest in history, weather experts have warned.

The prediction came as global figures revealed that last year was the fourth warmest ever recorded – topped only by 2016, 2015 and 2017.

Put together, the last five years had the highest temperatures since modern measurements began, and were on average around 1C above levels between 1850, when records began, and 1900.

The trend is expected to continue, with temperatures for 2019 to 2023 forecast to be between 1.03C and 1.57C above those just after the industrial revolution.

The figures from the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organisation led to calls for more urgent action on climate change amid increasingly frequent extreme weather.

Last year saw hurricanes devastate parts of the eastern US, disastrous flooding in India and deadly wildfires in California and Greece. In Britain, it was the joint hottest summer on record.

WMO secretary general Petteri Taalas said: ‘The long-term temperature trend is far more important than the ranking of individual years, and that trend is an upward one. The 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years. The degree of warming during the past four years has been exceptional, both on land and in the ocean.’

He added: ‘Many of the extreme weather events are consistent with what we expect from a changing climate.

‘This is a reality we need to face up to. Greenhouse gas emission reduction and climate adaptation measures should be a top global priority.’

The WMO figures were supported yesterday by a separate report from Nasa’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which also named 2018 as the fourth hottest year on Earth.

The Met Office’s Dr Doug Smith said the agreement by 195 nations under 2015’s Paris agreement on climate change to limit temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels could be reached sooner than expected.

He added: ‘Predictions now suggest around a 10% chance of at least one year between 2019 and 2023 temporarily exceeding 1.5C.’