Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Record-Breaking Sea Surface Temperatures in 2014: Has the Climate Shifted?


Rob Painting
Dec. 22, 2014

The record for the warmest monthly global sea surface temperature (SST) has been broken three times this year and the five warmest months of sea surface temperature ever recorded have all taken place in 2014. Although the year is not yet over, 2014 looks set to break the annual SST record too. This record warming of the ocean surface has, not surprisingly, had a big impact on global surface temperatures as well with 2014 currently on track to beat 2010 as the warmest year recorded in several data sets.

None of this will come as a shock to regular readers of Skeptical Science as we have pointed out in numerous posts over the years that global warming has actually sped up in recent times, with an increase of heat being absorbed into the subsurface ocean despite a slower (short-term) rate of surface warming. A prime (but not only) culprit in the slower rate of global surface warming in the last decade and a half has been the temporarily strengthened wind-driven ocean circulation and, at some point, this was likely to weaken. In short; during the negative phase of the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO) stronger winds mix more heat into the oceans, which leads to below average surface temperatures, whereas the positive phase of the IPO sees weaker winds which result in reduced ocean heat mixing and thus above average surface temperatures.


in the recent decade, the deep ocean was warming at a greater rate than the upper ocean layers


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