The temperature distribution in the ocean and at the ocean surface is, together with the salinity, a pre-requisite for the understanding of the vertical layering in the ocean, the general ocean circulation, and the amount and variability of the ocean heat content. The ocean (or sea) surface temperature (SST) determines the ocean-atmosphere heat exchange. The SST can be measured by radiometers operating in the infrared (Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer, AVHRR) or in the microwave part of the electromagnetic spectrum (Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer, AMSR-E). Advantage of using AVHRR: Finer spatial resolution; advantage of using AMSR-E: independent of clouds. Within the water column temperatures are typically measured by classical thermometers that used in oceanography (e.g. filled with Xylol), or thermoelectric / with thermistors. Temperature data provided via the ICDC are given in units Kelvin (K) or degrees Celsius (°C).
Temperature data of the ocean
Satellite Remote Sensing:
- Sea surface temperature (SST) from AVHRR (Pathfinder data set)
- SST (+ anomalies + global mean) from AVHRR and/or AVHRR & AMSR-E (Reynolds data set)
- SST from AMSR-E (REMSS data set)
- SST from HOAPS
- SST from MODIS
- Monthly mean SST (+ global mean) and sea ice cover (HadISST1)
- SST anomalies relative to 1961-1990: HadCRUT
Ocean temperature profiles:
The above-listed data sets based on satellite remote sensing are, without exception, long-term data sets. These may suffer from a relatively coarse spatial resolution. However, upon request we are providing also finer spatially resolved (e.g. 1 km) SST data sets.
- Buoys drifting or moored in the ocean permit to carry out observations of the water temperature close to the surface and of additional parameters as for instance the significant wave height or meteorological parameters. We recommend the National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) for getting an overview about and for downloading such observations.