2020 capped off Earth’s hottest recorded decade and tied with 2016 for the hottest year, according to data released today by the Copernicus Climate Change Service, a program of the European Commission. Average global temperatures were about 2.25°F (1.25°C) above the preindustrial average. That 2020 tied 2016 alarmed climate scientists because the 2016 high was fueled in part by a largely natural El Niño cycle, which features above-average equatorial sea surface temperatures across the Pacific and adds more heat to the atmosphere, while 2020 featured a cooling La Niña cycle. This means, in essence, human-caused global warming overwhelmed the planet’s natural cooling cycle. “I’m not sure how extreme things have to get for the message to get across that we’re heading into a climate emergency unless we take some ambitious and immediate action to control global climate change,” Sue Natali, a climate researcher who directs the Arctic program at the Woodwell Climate Research Center, told the Washington Post. NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will each issue their year-end global temperature data on January 14 and are expected to rank 2020 as either the first or second-warmest on record, based on slight differences in measuring. (Washington Post $, New York Times $, AP, The Guardian, Reuters, E&E $, Euractiv; Climate Signals background: Hottest Decade)