The Sudden Rebound in Weekly Global Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies

Weekly global sea surface temperature (SST) data can be noisy, capturing very short-term responses to weather, seasonal components, and the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). The preliminary and the February sea surface temperature anomaly updates included graphs of weekly global SST anomalies starting in 2004. They showed a sudden rise over 3 weeks in February. The rebound has ended, with global SST anomalies dropping significantly over the past 2 weeks.

Weekly Global Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies

While that rise in global sea surface temperature anomalies appears unusual in that short-term graph, we can present the data in another way to illustrate that there have been a couple of 3-week rises in global SST anomalies in the past that were comparable or greater. The next graph illustrates the 3-week change in global sea surface temperature anomalies, from the start of the Reynolds OI.v2 sea surface temperature data. The change is calculated as the weekly value minus the value from 3 weeks before. [Note that I spliced the early period (November 1, 1981 to December 31, 1989) to the later data (starting January 3, 1990).]

3-Week Change in Global Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies

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The Reynolds Optimally Interpolated Sea Surface Temperature Data (OISST) are available through the NOAA National Operational Model Archive & Distribution System (NOMADS).

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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11 Responses to The Sudden Rebound in Weekly Global Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies

  1. Richard F says:

    Question: Has the decrease been in the South/Eastern Pacific as was the original increase that we saw in February?

  2. Bob Tisdale says:

    Richard F: I had a funny feeling someone would ask. I’m not sure why I didn’t include these with the post.

    The Southeast Pacific (40S-20S, 90W-70W) has only cooled a little so far:

    The cooling appears to be in the other ocean basins:

  3. Richard F says:

    Ok cool, thanks.

  4. Espen says:

    Hmm – seems like the Southeast Pacific went through a very similar episode near the end of the 2007-2008 La Niña?

  5. Kevin Hearle says:

    The Aussies have a new report out on sea level with a clever graphic , haven’t read the report yet but this may interest you.

  6. Bob Tisdale says:

    Kevin Hearle: Thanks.

  7. Richard F says:

    In response to Kevin Hearle’s article about Australia’s changing climate:

    “One of the best indicators of changes in the climate system is the amount of heat stored in the oceans. The heat content of the world’s oceans has increased during recent decades and accounts for more than 90 per cent of the total heat accumulated by the land, air and ocean since the 1970s.”

    My question is how much of this warming can be caused by increased infrared via greenhouse gasses? Isn’t it much more likely that natural variances in the oceans, such as the AMO/PDO, or even the lasting effects of El Nino, would have a much greater impact on increasing ocean temps?

  8. Bob Tisdale says:

    Richard F: How urgent is your question? I started preparing a post about OHC and I’ll probably post it sometime early next week, probably Tuesday or Wednesday.


  9. Richard F says:

    Not urgent, I did a little research into the idea of the ‘skin’ layer on the top 1mm of oceans and the affect CO2 and increases in LWR has on it. It’s something I’ve always wondered about and am not fully convinced it’s the cause for warming.
    I look forward to your post next week.


  10. Weekly global sea surface temperature (SST) data can be noisy

    Bob, I know the term ‘noise is bandied around a lot in the climate debate.

    Noise is unwanted signal. As there is no indication these SST changes aren’t real, they are therefore not noise.

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