>Animated Zonal Mean SST Anomalies


In this post I tried to determine if animating Zonal Mean SST Anomalies would reveal anything of value. It might, but if it does, it’s not readily apparent. I’ve also run a side-by-side comparison of the 82/83 and 97/98 El Ninos (not posted) and while it does show the similarities and disimilarities (caused by the El Chichon eruption) of the two events, there was nothing eye-opening. This is my first and last venture into animating Zonal Mean SST Anomalies.


The GISS website creates global temperature anomaly and trend maps based on user-defined parameters.

Figure 1 is the GISS Sea Surface Temperature (SST) anomaly map for December 2008, with default settings of 1200km smoothing and 1951 to 1980 as the base years.

Figure 1

Scrolling down on the GISS map output page, there are graphs of zonal mean temperature anomalies for the given month (in this example SST for December 2008). Refer to Figure 2.

Figure 2

Scrolling farther down, the data for the zonal mean graph is provided if you click on “Text” on the line “Download the zonal means plot as PDF or Postscript or text file”. I’ve used that data to create an animation of Zonal Mean SST anomalies.

The animated Zonal Mean SST Anomalies from 60S to 65N (outlined in red in Figures 1 and 2) for the months of January 1976 to December 2008 are illustrated in the following video. It’s based on an 11MB gif animation file that’s been converted to AVI format. It runs fast, but it will be slowed considerably in future posts (and divided into shorter clips) when I look at the zonal mean SST anomalies for individual events such as the 1997/98 El Nino and its aftermath, or the combined effects of the 1982 El Nino and the El Chichon eruption, or a comparison of those two El Nino events.

YouTube Link:

NOTE: From January 1976 to November 1981, GISS used HADSST as the SST dataset. The titles of those graphs contain the note [Source: GISS/HADSST]. In December 1981, GISS switch SST datasets to OI.v2 SST. The titles of those later graphs are marked only as [Source: GISS] to differentiate between the two.

About Bob Tisdale

Research interest: the long-term aftereffects of El Niño and La Nina events on global sea surface temperature and ocean heat content. Author of the ebook Who Turned on the Heat? and regular contributor at WattsUpWithThat.
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