Global SST Update: Still No Sign of Resumed Warming

July 8th, 2011 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

Here’s the global average sea surface temperature (SST) update from AMSR-E on NASA’s Aqua satellite, updated through yesterday, July 7, 2011:

The anomalies are relative the existing period of record, which is since June 2002.

As can be seen, the SSTs have not quite recovered from the coolness of the recent La Nina.

Something else I track is the ocean cloud water anomalies, also from AMSR-E, which I have calibrated in terms of anomalies in reflected sunlight based upon Aqua CERES data:

Why I watch this is it often predicts future SST behavior. For instance, the circled portion in 2010 shows a period of enhanced reflection of sunlight (thus reduced solar input into the ocean), and this corresponded to strong cooling of SSTs during 2010 as seen in the first graph.

So, the recent new enhancement of cloudiness (smaller circle) suggests a fall of SST in the next month or so. After that, it generally takes another month or so before ocean changes are transferred to the global oceanic atmosphere through enhanced or decreased convective overturning and precipitation.

24 Responses to “Global SST Update: Still No Sign of Resumed Warming”

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  1. Wow, I only asked earlier today, and here it is. Sterling service Dr Roy, thank you for the SST update!

    I have been shooting my mouth off on a few blogs over the last year predicting a double dip La Nina, so your observations on reflected SW are much appreciated. My somewhat refined simple model has been predicting an SST anomaly of -0.3C (on your newer baseline) by Christmas 2011 for the last 16 months.

  2. DocMartyn says:

    Roy, could you plot both the SST and reflected sunlight on a single graph.
    I would like to know if one precedes the other.

  3. Carter says:


    What you actually said only 9 months ago:

    >Rog Tallbloke says:
    >October 28, 2010 at 12:51 PM
    >I predicted over 12 months ago that SST would be at 2007/8 >low point level by February. I still stand by it.

    You were wrong, and it doesn’t look like your new prediction will be true either, although NOAA’s forecast does suggest we are not headed straight into an El Nino.

  4. Stephen Wilde says:

    DR. Spencer said:

    “For instance, the circled portion in 2010 shows a period of enhanced reflection of sunlight (thus reduced solar input into the ocean), and this corresponded to strong cooling of SSTs during 2010 as seen in the first graph.”


    And this is how it all seems to fit together:


    “A quiet sun causes the jets to move equatorward thus ‘closing the window blinds’ for a decrease in solar energy reaching and entering the oceans with the system showing a net energy loss overall.”

  5. 1]the amount of ice on polar caps doesn’t depend on temperature, but on the amount of raw material for renewal of ice (permafrost is -60degreesC but no ice. 2] both camps forget that A: water has miror affect B]most important: 6 months of the year up there is no sunlight! Ice is full of air as polysterine = perfect insulator – minus ice, water absorbs extra coldness! that extra coldness radiates south as riples – intercepts the moisture = more snow in Europe /USA = no moisture goes to Arctic to renew the ice = the chain reaction started. + as on convayer belt from Arctic COLDER water goes to gulf of Mexico ( only is deep below the surface) cannot be noticed. Both camps are wrong and back to front = just as guilty!!!To get corect information:
    It is time to get corect verssion on all issuess. please review what is on my website – Kyoto Protocol will become a sick jocke in short time. Outdated theories don’t take into acount the laws of physics. IF THE LAWS OF PHYSICS DON’T AGREE = MUST BE WRONG !!!

  6. Martin says:

    May I ask a question? What does SW anomaly depends on? It´s a new issue to me.

    and “no moisture goes to Arctic to renew the ice” by Stefan Mitich: Isn´t northern ice cap (except for Greenland) just frozen sea water? I know that glaciers are formed from old snow, but this is sea ice in otherwise very dry climate. Just southern Greenland gets more precipitation, most of the area is desertic (less than 250mm/year). So if you have any information on what part of Arctic ice is from squashed snow, please send it here.

  7. I am also expecting another La Nina this fall into winter.

    Dr. Spencer thanks for this info. I see the potential for more geological activity the second half of the month of July. Based on solar action, or lack of it,but a potential spurt of activity, next week. Let’s see what happens.


  8. LOD -length of day.(rotational rate changes) I think this could be connected to the PDO,and (volcanic activity) but I don’t see it connecting to the NAO/AO. I think the AO/NAO is related to the amount of UV light/solar proton amounts , the sun puts out, which in turn changes the ozone distribution in the stratosphere, which in turn warms the stratosphere differently in different latitudes. Low ozone resulting in middle lat. cooling RELATIVE to the polar regions hence a lesser pressure gradient and a more -AO/NAO. This situation correlates to the low solar activity that is ciurrently taking place as we speak. If one looks at the AO ,one will see for the most part it has indeed been neg. especialy when the sun is very quiet ,in contrast to this spring when sola activity picked up some. The lag times with this solar/climatic relationship being among the shortest.


    I wonder what it is going to take to have the clueless mainstream scientist realize it is linked to the prolong solar minimum ,with spurts of activity within the minimum. This in turn will produce a bigger hit to earth’s magnetic field and jolt the earth more by probably changing the variouis rotational rates from the crust to the earth’s core relative to one another ever so slightly but enough to cause more geological instability.

    Past history shows the correlation and present history, especially this year, sure shows correlation. I expect some more major geological activity, as long as solar activity remains low, with spurts within the lull of activity.


    I guarentee you if we go into a cooling trend due to volcanic eruptions on the increase, the mainstream (the clueless mainstream scientist, NOT Dr. Spencer)is going to say it is the volcanic eruptions which are causing the cooling, and it will just be temporary. I bet my last dollar.

    The reality is the volcanic eruptions are part of the process that takes place during a prolong solar minimum and are therefore part of the process of global cooling that comes about when a prolong solar minimum is in place. Again look at past history. This time will be no exception.


    The AGW crowd has wrongly chosen to put their faith in climatic models which don’t have the proper data to work with in the first place in addition to lacking the sophistication needed to predict future climatic trends.

    In contrast to SKEPTICS .for lack of a better word that look to see what has happened during earth’s past history when x+ x+ x+x events occur and then try to see if those same x events in the past match up to the present situation.

    For my two cwents ,I put much more faith in past history then some computer model which does not have the correct or compete data to begin with ,in order to make a future climatic projection.


    This decade is going to be the decade of truth, when it comes to earth’s climate.

  9. Ric Werme says:

    Does data from AMSR-E allow an estimate of global land reflected sunlight anomaly from cloud cover? I imagine calibrating it would be difficult due to seasonal changes due to plant growth and snow cover.

    How do you handle changes in sea ice in your oceanic SW anomaly graph?

  10. Ray says:

    Once again, the AQUA CH5 temperature is rising quickly and on July 7th., was almost at the same level as on the equivalent day in 2010. It now seems almost certain that this year’s daily figures will surpass those of 2010 in the next few days.
    Based on past relationships, the mean CH5 anomaly of 0.273 deg. at July 7th is equivalent to a UAH of 0.302c, but since the estimated anomalies for April to June were up to 0.1c too low, this could mean a UAH figure of up to 0.402c,
    which would make this July’s anomaly almost as high as those of 2010 and even 1998, especially since CH5 anomalies are still rising.
    During early June, CH5 temperatures also rose quickly and even exceeded those of 2010 for two days. However, those temperature figures were subsequently withdrawn, with as far as I am aware, no explanation.
    I am therefore forced to ask the question now, can we be certain that the current AQUA CH5 temperatures are correct?

  11. Ray says:

    In view of the poor accuracy results in using the AQUA CH5 temperature anomaly to predict UAH, I thought I would try using the same method to predict the RSS anomaly.
    It turns out that, at least in the case of June anomalies, the AQUA CH5 anomaly is a much better predictor of RSS than of UAH.
    Over the period 2003-2010, the mean absolute deviation of June UAH predictions from actual UAH was 0.04 deg., while the MAD of RSS predictions from actual RSS, was only 0.026 deg.
    In fact, based on the formula derived from 2003-2010 figures, the predicted RSS for June 2011 was 0.274 deg., compared to the actual figure of 0.277 deg.
    On the basis of the above, it seems that the reason for the poor performance in predicting UAH from CH5, may be the same as for the apparently increasing divergence of actual UAH and RSS anomalies.

  12. Lawrence says:

    I have to agree with Ray’s two posts. We went through an early 2011 period based on the previous NOAA satellite data which Dr Spencer warned against using due to time of day measuring issues. I mean at one stage Joe Bastardi was looking at the troposphere above 14000′ feet and lo and behold a great cooling did take place. However that seems to have been a false dawn for those looking for the great global temperature downturn. There was also a very sharp post Christmas cooling which was again later corrected. Anyhow we have ocean temps cooling a neutral ENSO, volcanoes popping off and the great quite sun theory and yet we are seeing temps higher than this time last year on channel 5 14000′. If the aqua satellite is accurate I would start to worry that we’re gonna need a bigger boat.

    Come on Dr Spencer please tell us the aqua data is flawed……please.

  13. I am not worried at all. I don’t think you understand lag times.

  14. Here we have co2 contiuning to rise and temperatures at best have been flat since 2002.

    It is very frustrating to see how data that was thought to be accurate is now all in question. This just complicates matters, and does not give one much confidence in future data coming in,never mind the past data. It also makes one wonder if more changes to the data will be in the offing.

    It is hard enough to try to do this with accurate data. I would say now with the data in question, it leaves us even more in the dark then previously, which was uncertain enough.

    This whole global cooling is going to take time to play out and it wil have many zig and zags and much of it will be a temp. redistribution rather then so much of a flat ourt cooling.

    I say as long as volcanic activity is on the increase, solar activity remains low, soi index tends toward positive, pdo remains cold. ao tends toward negative that a significant temp. redistribtion with overall cooling is on it’s way. It can’t be otherwise. This decade will be one of global cooling and increase geological activity.

  15. Lawrence says:

    Oh I see. that’s alright then. So you feel that the aqua data is accurate and we are seeing or not seeing energy lags. Okay we’ve had some modest cooling since El Nino last year but now we are seeing a lag from what exactly?

    I would appreciate something that made sense as I clearly lag behind most.

    However just read your second post and at least now you feel things are messy and as I’ve said we seem to have all sceptics big guns in play at the moment with low sunspot activity, fanastic NH albedo, negative PDO even the timescale for the end of the interglacial (yes I know could be thousands of years away) Blimey we’ve even now got AGW apologist saying man made dust is causing cooling. So all that taken into account I just wonder based on aqua satellite being totally accurate ; where has all this bloody heat come from in just several weeks.
    It is a tad frustrating to say the least

  16. This is frustrating, but the temperature is not going to continue in one particular direction month after month. It is going to go up and down, up and down. The trend is what is important, what will the temperature be like 2 or 3 years from now. I say down for all the reasons we mentioned in the previous post, and I will elaborate on it some, that temperatures will be on the decline this decade., or at least the distribution of temp. in the N.H. wil be such that most places wil be colder.

    Right now as of this moment I would say the factor having the single greatest effect on temperature is the SOI index. It has gone from a state of strongly +, ( La Nina) to a neutral state(La Nada). In response to this, the tropical temperatures have risen the past few months, which has had a big impact on lifting the global temperatures. I don’t think however, this trend will continue due to the fact the PDO,is in it’s cold phase, making for the likelyhood of another La Nina later this year,and if it should occur, the temperature trend will be down once again.

    The sun has a cumulative effect on temperature itself, and I have heard lag times from 5 to 30 years. I think it is closer to 5, but I don’t know. The sun started it’s prolong solar minimum in late 2005, so we could be getting over the lag time,soon.

    I believe right or wrong that the sun sets the tables for the following; which govern earth’s climatic system to a large extent. Those being Volcanic Activity, AO/NAO atm. circulation, Cosmic Rays, SOI Index,PDO/AMO.

    These in turn can effect cloud formation,snow cover ,precipitation which I think in turn will effect earth’s albedo. I don’t know to what extent they will effect the albedo, but I think they will, and thus any change in albedo will have an evenual big impact on temperature.

    I think further ,if those items mentioned above along with solar activity have a degree of magnitude strong enough and a duration of time long enough, that they will result in earth’s temperature either warming or cooling. As of now all the items have been phasing into a cold mode, AMO not yet, but will later this decade. I say if this continues long enough and to a degree of magnitude strong enough ,that cooling will come about.

    What degree of magnitude is needed? That is another question. Is it the sun having a solar flux reading below 100,or 90 or 75 ? I don’t know that answer. Is it volcanic eruptions that need an explosive index of 2, or 3 or 4 and how many are needed? I don’t know.How persistent does La Nina have to be ,how negative does the AO have to be?How cold does the PDO have to be? Etc Etc .

    In addition I don’t know exactly what the lag times are. I think the lag times will always be different, for each particular set of circumstances.

    All that aside ,all the above have been tending toward a cold mode or phase ,and I say if this continues even to this degree of magnitude it will be sufficent to cause temperatures to drop this decade.

    I expect the degree of magnitude of these items phasing toward a cold mode to increase as this decade goes by, and thus I expect a pretty significant cool down by the end of this decade, with extreme weather events continuing, along with geological activity being as high if not higher then it has been of late.

    This is my feeling based on all I have studied. I just don’t see CO2 as a factor. Past history supports this and the lack of any positive feedbacks thus far from the increase in CO2 ,further supports this. Yes, CO2 in a vacum would cause tmperatures to go up , but remember CO2 has to double itself each time to get the same effect as the time before in temp. ,absent any positive feedbacks.

    I hope the sun will continue in it’s prolong solar minimum state which seems likely based on the angular monmentum being exerted on the sun by the planets, which is similar to previous solar minimuns , so we can find out once and for all just how much influence the sun has on earth’s climatic system and how it exactly accomplishes this influence. I say it will be proven that is is indeed the sun,driven by solar system dynamics that drives the items that control the climate here on earth that ultimaely determine earth’s climate.

  17. Tilo Reber says:

    @Ray. I’m wondering about one of your comments. You say that RSS is essentially not different from AQUA Ch5. This means that the merged RSS data is the same as the data coming from a satellite with station keeping. Roy, on the other hand, says that UAH and RSS are diverging because the RSS models are not accounting for satellite drift correctly. These two things would seem to contradict each other. What am I missing?

  18. Ray says:

    Tilo Reber says:
    “@Ray. I’m wondering about one of your comments. You say that RSS is essentially not different from AQUA Ch5.”
    That’s not quite what I said.
    What I said was that in the case of June temperatures, AQUA CH5 was a better predictor of RSS than of UAH.
    It just so happened that the prediction of the June 2011 RSS was very close to the actual figure, but that was unusual. The Mean Absolute Deviation for years 2003-2011 for RSS was 0.026, compared to 0.04 for UAH. The actual differences ranged from
    -0.064 to +0.1 for UAH and -0.039 to +0.088 for RSS.
    I have now checked the relative accuracy for the months of January to July, and in most cases, RSS predictions were better than for UAH, except for March, when they were almost identical.
    Not knowing the details of how UAH and RSS anomalies are arrived at, I am in no way qualified to explain this, but I did notice that in a reply to Dr Spencer’s original blog on the divergence between UAH and RSS, Carl Mears did say that data from AQUA had been added to RSS between V3.2 and V3.3, although I don’t know at what point that change was made.

  19. Mark Whitney says:

    Dr. Spencer
    We met a few years ago here in Salt Lake City, and I have continued to follow your work.
    I have come across a published study that is quite beyond me, but it seems right up your alley. It is an evaluation of cloud effects and solar influence. What is your take if you can take the time to school me.

    Thank you,
    Mark Whitney

  20. Carter says:
    July 8, 2011 at 3:22 PM


    What you actually said only 9 months ago:

    >Rog Tallbloke says:
    >October 28, 2010 at 12:51 PM
    >I predicted over 12 months ago that SST would be at 2007/8 >low point level by February. I still stand by it.

    You were wrong, and it doesn’t look like your new prediction will be true either, although NOAA’s forecast does suggest we are not headed straight into an El Nino.

    True, it didn’t drop to -0.2C by february like the 2007/8 la nina did, I was 0.1C out. Oh well. Not too bad for a forecast made 16 months ahead of the event.

    Predictions are tricky, especially ones about the future. Wait and see what you get for Christmas.

    • Carter says:


      You actually made a statement of prediction in Oct. about a temperature in Feb (5 months ahead). Since the SST was already in negative territory and heading steeply down by then, the fact that you missed by a factor of two is not so impressive.

      In fact, if we interpret your prediction as how much additional cooling we were going to see between Oct when you made the statement and Feb., you were off by about a factor of 3!

      It sounds like you are now predicting that we will see roughly 0.3 degrees cooling between now and Dec. 25. Is that your prediction?

  21. Mark Whitney- I think Rog Tallbloke info on solar cycles says it the best. He posted it recently under one of the recent stories on this web-site. It shows what is really happening.

    The article you show as far as cosmic rays goes is okay ,but it is the same old back and forth arguments,otherwise.

    Tallbloke has it right.

    As for the cosmic rays/cloud correlation , time will tell.

  22. Dan Pangburn says:

    Many are so lost among the trees that they can not find the forest. Average global temperature trends since 1895 have an excellent correlation with the time-integral of sunspot numbers. Two causal connections are proposed. One relates to average cloud altitude and the other to location of the jet stream. Maybe its both.

    A simple equation based on the physical phenomena involved, with inputs of accepted measurements from government agencies, calculates the average global temperatures (agt) since 1895 with 88.4% accuracy (87.9% if CO2 is assumed to have no influence). See the equation, links to the source data, an eye-opening graph of the results and how they are derived in the pdfs at (see especially the pdfs made public on 4/10/10, and 3/10/11. Dates are listed at the top of each summary. Click on the links at the bottom to see the full pdfs).

  23. Stephen Wilde says:

    Note that when the jets move poleward the globally averaged height of the tropopause also rises so the two proposed causal connections are actually two aspects of the same phenomenon.

    It seems that both bottom up oceanic warming (faster release of energy from the oceans such as during El Nino) and top down solar effects (cooling the stratosphere when the sun is more active) both work together in raising the tropopause and shifting the jets poleward as was seen during the late 20th century warming spell.

    The opposite when there is La Nina and a less active sun.

    At other times the two processes can be out of phase and working against each other.