Ocean SSTs Mixed in June

Science Matters

The best context for understanding decadal temperature changes 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 in recent years.

HadSST is generally regarded as the best of the global SST data sets, and so the temperature story here comes from that source, the latest version being HadSST3.  More on what distinguishes HadSST3 from other SST products at the end.

The Current Context

The chart below shows SST monthly anomalies as reported in HadSST3 starting in 2015 through June 2019.
A global cooling pattern is seen clearly in the Tropics since its peak in 2016, joined by NH and SH cycling downward since 2016.  2018 started with slow warming after…

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One thought on “Ocean SSTs Mixed in June

  1. Thanks for the link Ron v. interesting.
    I am a bit surprised at the figure of 200 W/sq.m for the solar input at the ocean surface. It is my view that evaporation absorbs a very large amount of this solar radiation with very little penetrating below the surface.
    Much depends on the ambient humidity and wind conditions; but each kilogram of water evaporated winds up in the atmosphere rather than in the ocean carrying with it some 680 Watthrs which I suggest is a very large proportion of the solar input. (I roughly equate 1kg of water to a square metre here)
    In effect water vapour is providing a very efficient insulation mechanism.
    I believe this figure comes from Peixoto and Oort 1992.; but have not looked at their calculations.
    If I am right then this puts a very different perspective on the influence of sea floor energy inputs on ocean temperatures which to me could be considerable.

    An indication of this, I suggest could be found in the marked difference in behaviour between the Eastern and Western areas of Antarctica with the active volcanic rift lying beneath the Western section.
    I also ponder on whether El Niño has some roots in this sea floor activity. All complete guesswork and surmise on my part.
    Anyhow many thanks
    My regards
    Alasdair

    Liked by 1 person

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