Sea Surface Temperature

Sea Surface temperature

I’m McKensie Daugherty, your host for On the Ocean. With human-caused greenhouse gasses on the rise, predicting how the atmosphere and ocean will respond to global climate change has become very important. Scientists at Texas A&M University have used historical data, dating back to 1815, to investigate long-term climate trends such as identifying changes in sea surface temperatures and ocean circulation patterns. Using this historical data, numerical calculations were conducted and showed that global sea surface temperature in the ocean has sea surface temperature cooling and warming trends per decade. The most notable warming trend has occurred since the 1980’s, with average warming of 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Since the heat that the ocean is holding is increasing, the ocean circulations are changing in response. An important circulation called the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, which is known for its uptake of human introduced gasses from the atmosphere, is showing signs of slowing down as global temperatures increase. Researchers at Texas A&M University are continuing to use this information to understand what effects this circulation may have on the atmosphere, the ocean, and our future climate. This has been On the Ocean, a program made possible by the Department of Oceanography and a production of KAMU-FM on the campus of Texas A&M University in College Station. For more information and links, please go to and click On the Ocean.

Script Author: Lauren Replogle

Contributing Professor: Dr. Benjamin Giese

Published Results: from


The ensemble mean SST tendency (shaded) in °C Century−1 and wind stress tendency (vectors) in N m−2 Century−1 from 1815 through 2013.


SST from the second EOF averaged from 90°W to 20°E and from 35°N to 80°N in °C plotted as a black line (left axis). Also shown is the maximum of the stream function in the North Atlantic Ocean in Sverdrups is shown as a red line (right axis). Both time series have been smoothed with a 5 year box-car average.