Oceans Make 2015 & 2016 Climate

Science Matters

Ocean temperature measurements come from a global array of 3,500 Argo floats and other ocean sensors. Credits: Argo Program, Germany/Ifremer

We are seeing lots of claims about the temperature records for 2016 and 2015 proving dangerous man made warming.  At least one senator stated that in a confirmation hearing.  Now that HadSST3 data is complete for last year, let’s see how obvious is the ocean’s governing of global average temperatures.

The best context for understanding these two years comes from the world’s sea surface temperatures (SST), for several reasons:

  • The ocean covers 71% of the globe and drives average temperatures;
  • SSTs have a constant water content, (unlike air temperatures), so give a better reading of heat content variations;
  • A major El Nino was the dominant climate feature these years.

HadSST is generally regarded as the best of the global SST data sets, and so the temperature story here comes from…

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