Once again, temperature records have been smashed in 2016. Data released by NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies shows that April was the warmest ever recorded.

It was a remarkable 1.11C above the long-term (1951-1980) average.

In itself, this comes as little surprise.

This is the seventh consecutive month in which global temperatures have been broken. For each of these months, temperatures have been at least 1.0C above the long-term average.

It is also the third month in a row that the monthly record has been exceeded by the largest margin ever. Equal or larger departures from average have only been recorded in February ( 1.33C), March ( 1.29C) and January ( 1.11C)

Approximately 0.1C to 0.2C of this warming is directly attributable to the naturally occurring El Nino effect.

This is now weakening and it is 70 percent likely that it will be replaced by its cooling counterpart, La Nina, by the third quarter of the year.

Nevertheless, the huge excess of warmth in the first four months of the year is such that scientists can be "99 percent" certain that 2016 will be the warmest on record.

The warmest years since 1880 have all occurred since 1998:  2014 was the warmest on record; then 2015 was the warmest on record.

Now 2016 looks set to reinforce the importance of tackling the issue of anthropogenic [human] climate change, and the necessity of implementing the pledges made at the Paris Agreement in December last year.

This committed the signatories to limiting future climate change to 2C by the century’s end. At the current rate, even this relatively modest target is going to be a huge challenge.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies