TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — In my 3 decade-long career being a weather forecaster, and now Chief Meteorologist and Climate Specialist, I have never observed so many of Earth’s vital signs blinking red. Meteorologists and climate scientists all around the world are in awe by the simultaneous literal “off the charts” records being broken.

Yes, it’s climate change.

The steady trend of rising temperatures over the last few decades has placed Earth’s baseline climate so high that achieving these extremes – which used to be rare if not unheard of – is now expected when conditions are ripe. And right now they are, with El Niño’s added heat and several other concurrent, varying natural climate patterns.

So, to be more specific, it’s climate change – with other natural patterns piled on top.

With El Niño now in place, we are getting a glimpse of just how far we can force the climate system, with never before observed heights achieved. Many more are on the way for 2023-2024 as El Niño gets stronger and more heat is released from the oceans into the Atmosphere.

From ocean temperatures, to sea ice, to land ice to emissions from wildfire smoke, the charts below speak for themselves. Let’s start with ocean temperatures.

Due to a combination of factors, the North Atlantic Ocean is way beyond record hot right now. The kind of heat that would only be found once in 10s or 100s of thousands of years in a climate before human-caused warming took hold. Take a look at the North Atlantic sea surface temperature departure from normal in 2023 compared to previous years.

(Image credit Professor Eliot Jacobson)

The Atlantic has warmed ~2 degrees Fahrenheit since 1900, due to warming from emissions of greenhouse gases due to the burning of fossil fuels and also, more recently, the decrease in air pollution, allowing more sunlight through.

In the shorter term, on top of that, we have a weaker Atlantic high meaning weaker tropical low-level winds (Trade winds), and thus, less dust stirred up off Africa. Less dust over the Tropical Atlantic skies means more sun gets through and it warms the surface.

In the below comparison, from Dr. Michael Lowry, you can see the absence of dust compared to normal. Use the slider bar to view the eastern Tropical Atlantic. (Also notice the excess smoke in the North Atlantic from the Canadian fires. We will return to that).

There is also an extreme heatwave off the coast of Europe contributing to the heat as well. And it is not confined to the Atlantic. In the Pacific, El Niño is warming the Tropical waters while heat lingers from a warm blob over the North Central Pacific ocean.

When you add it all up, Global Ocean temperatures are way beyond record hot, making the heat basically statistically impossible before human-caused warming existed. Below you can see the black line indicating this year’s sea surface temperature departure from normal (about 4 standard deviations above normal) which is far above records.

(Image credit Climate Reanalyzer)

Another chart that has really stood out for it’s off the charts look is Antarctic sea ice. Right now sea ice should be growing fast near the South Pole. Instead growth is labored and departures from normal are the highest ever observed, at a very surprising time of year given that it’s winter there.

(Image credit Zack Labe)

To view this another way, take a look below at the map of Antarctica. The red shows areas that are behind on sea ice growth; nearly everywhere!

While climate change is likely playing a role in the downward trend these last few years, it can likely not explain the rapid dip in sea ice growth in the past few months. The atmospheric and ocean currents are very variable near Antarctica, and it will likely take much research to quantify the reasons.

Over the longer term, there are worrying signs at the bottom of the world, with a few new papers showing a large decline in the vital overturning circulation.

That dip in southern ice has also caused Global sea ice to be at record departures from normal levels.

(Image credit Zack Labe)

Now let’s move on to the Canadian wildfires. It’s early in fire season, but already Canada has experienced its worst wildfire season on record in terms of burning area, fire size, and intensity. As the climate warms, areas dry, and fires spread more vigorously. This year, there has been a persistent heat dome for months across parts of Canada which has led to less rain and warmer weather.

A measure of fire size and intensity from 2000 to 2023. Magenta is 2023.

That has led to a record-setting amount of greenhouse emissions from Canadian wildfires. So many emissions it is almost equal to that of Canada’s normal greenhouse emissions in a whole year and it’s still early in the fire season.

(Image credit Copernicus)

We can see a worrying sign from the fire emissions data that as we warm the Earth, growing emissions from fires will counteract the deliberate emissions reductions from governments which are aimed at reducing climate change. It’s an irony.

Lastly, let’s discuss Greenland. Recently the below image was posted by Dr. Jason Box, an expert on Greenland. It’s how surface snow/ice melt spiked off this chart over the past few days.

Surface melt over Greenland

Although this may appear to be a record spike, this graph shows values in the gray which are within the 10th and 90th percentile. Meaning it does not show values above 90%. This spike was caused by very warm temperatures, some of which can be attributed to downsloping winds.

A further inspection reveals that we have seen much larger spikes in a few years prior, especially in 2021, the year of record for Greenland. This graphic below was made by Professor Eliot Jacobson.

(Image credit Professor Eliot Jacobson)

But for Greenland, it is still early in the season. Next week a massive heat dome will form over the Island and melt rates will be very high. With the added heat in the system from El Niño, it is worth watching to see if 2023 can overtake 2012 for the title.

So far I’ve written all this without mentioning the ongoing heatwave in the US. While it was over Mexico and Texas it became one of the longest-lived early-season heatwaves on record, and by some measures, it is the worst heatwave on record especially in Mexico and southwest Texas.

Numerous all-time records were broken, with stations in Texas recording over a week in a row of record-breaking heat. That heat has moved east into the US Deep South and Florida. The heat dome will finally fade over the next few days.

The bottom line is, with Earth’s overheated climate and an intensifying El Niño, we can expect to see the Earth’s climate system astonish us over and over again into next year.