A sizzling 2020 cemented the last decade as the world's hottest since at least 1880. Last year came in 0.04 degrees Fahrenheit under 2016, one US agency reported, while another found the two years too close to call, the Wall Street Journal reports. "This is another piece of evidence that tells us the planet is warming decade by decade by decade," a NASA official said. Since record-keeping began in 1880, global yearly temperatures have averaged a 0.14-degree increase per decade. Government scientists say that since 1981, the increases have averaged twice that. The past four decades have all been warmer than the one before. And the seven hottest years have all been since 2014.
The regions of the US most affected were the Northeast and Southwest, per the New York Times. Half of the nation was afflicted by drought. Around the world, heat waves and storms are bringing more droughts, as well as floods and wildfires. Scientists had hoped that a cooling La Niña Pacific Ocean current would help, but it was mostly negated by the rise in temperatures driven by increasing emissions. It still could help hold temperatures down this year. Because of La Niña, "you're expecting not a record warm year" in 2021, the NASA official said—"but another top-five year, and clearly part of the string of very warm years that we've been having." Last year also was the hottest on record for Europe and Asia. (Read more global warming stories.)