Sea surface temperature, much like the atmosphere’s temperature,
is constantly changing. The interaction between the ocean and the
atmosphere is one that scientists are constantly researching, especially
in light of climate change. Water warms up and cools down at a slower
rate than air, so diurnal variations (heating during the day and cooling
during the night) seen in the atmosphere are hard to observe in the
ocean. The seasons, however, can be seen as the warmest water near the
equator expands toward the United States during the summer months and
withdraws again during the winter months.
NASA Earth Observations Monthly SST Color Bar
Sea surface temperature data is available in three
different datasets. This dataset illustrates every eight days from July 4, 2002 through September 9, 2006. This
data is from the MODIS satellite. Dark purple is 28°F and bright
red is 95°F.
The second dataset, Fleet Numerical SST (April 13, 2005 - October 31, 2006), illustrates daily sea surface temperatures from April 13, 2005 through October 31, 2006.
This data was obtained from the Fleet Numerical Meteorology and
Oceanography Center and is created by the Navy Coupled Ocean Data
Assimilation. The temperature range for the sea surface temperature is
indicated on the color bar in degrees Celsius below. O° is
equivalent to 32°F and 30°C is equivalent to 86°F. The final dataset, Sea Surface Temp Monthly Sept 1981 - Dec 2006 from NEO, is from the NASA Earth Observations site , which used data from NOAA satellites to create the animation. It contains monthly images from September 1981 through December 2006. The black areas that appear in the ocean are from missing data due to cloud cover.