2014 Global SST Not Looking Like a Record…So Far

July 18th, 2014 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

I was perusing Bob Tisdale’s analysis of global average sea surface temperatures (SST) through June 2014 and noticed that the OISST product (which has a heavy reliance on satellite infrared measurements) has been suggesting 2014 might be a record warm year, at least for SST.

So, I decided to update the satellite microwave-based SST data from RSS (comprised of the AMSR-E, TMI, and Windsat satellite datasets), and it tells a different story, with 2014 not quite as warm as the last time we were ramping into El Nino conditions (2009):

Satellite microwave SST anomalies (global) since mid-2002, updated through mid-July 2014.

Satellite microwave SST anomalies (global) since mid-2002, updated through mid-July 2014.

I don’t have an obvious explanation for the discrepancy. There are a few possibilities…

1) The microwave measurements are much less susceptible to cloud and aerosol contamination, and have a better satellite diurnal drift adjustment.

2) I restrict the analysis to 60 deg. N latitude, to avoid sea ice issues, while the OISST product goes farther north….but I would think that this is such a small area that it would not affect the global averages substantially.

3) I also use a fairly short period to compute the anomalies relative to, but this has no effect when comparing the same calendar months (e.g. January thrugh June, 2014 versus 2009).

In any event, it appears there are some discrepancies regarding just how warm 2014 is shaping up to be. With a strong El Nino increasingly unlikely, I’m still betting that 2014 will not be a record warm year.

23 Responses to “2014 Global SST Not Looking Like a Record…So Far”

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  1. What the co2 driven global warming advocates dont discuss is that if the ocean has started eating global warming since the trade winds changed during the negative phase of the oceans ~60 year multi-decadal cycles, they also emitted excess energy during their positive phase from 1975-2005. The implication is that the oceans are capable of storing energy on long timescales, and releasing it on long timescales too. And they store a lot of energy. The top two metres alone contain as much energy as the entire atmosphere above.

    We know that the oceans keep the air temperature up over night as the release some of the energy the Sun poured into them during the day. We also know that there is a lag of a couple of months between the longest day of the year and the peak in surface air temperatures near coasts. This is thermal inertia and heat capacity at work. On longer timescales, we have recently confirmed that runs of El Nino events which release a lot of energy from the oceans are initiated on the falling side of the solar cycle, never on the upswing.

    So we can go a stretch further and combine what we know. When solar activity falls, energy comes out of the ocean, not just over the period of the decline of a single 11 year solar cycle, but if the Sun stays low in activity terms, for many years. An integration of the sunspot number shows us that the ocean heat content rose all the way from 1934 to 2003. This is the real cause of global warming. A lot of excess energy is still retained in the upper ocean. We can expect the effect of a couple of low solar cycles to be softened by a proportion of that excess heat returning to space via the atmosphere warming it on the way.

    In developing my understanding of the Earths systems, I developed a couple of very simple models to help me fathom the way the surface temperature stays fairly constant as the solar cycles wax and wane. Back in 2009, by analysing the data, I found that the global average sea surface temperature, the SST, stays fairly constant when the Sun is averaging around 40 sunspots per month. By calculating the running total departing from this figure in a simple integration I found that combined with the ~60 oceanic cycles (also solar influenced), I could reproduce the temperature history of the last 150 years quite accurately. By adding in a nominal forcing for co2 (or an allowance for the infamous adjustments to the data), I was able to get a match to monthly data which has a Pearson R^2 value of 0.9.

    The above is part of an article ROG TALKBLOKE wrote from his web-site talkblokes talkshop.

    I think this article presents a strong case for solar/ocean connections.

    • JohnKl says:

      Hi Salvatore,

      Thank you for the information. From what you presented I’m curious if you know at approximately what time of year maximum SST occurs?

      Have a great day!

    • JohnKl says:

      Hi Roy,

      Do you have Satellite Microwave SST anomalies back to 1979?


    • James Strom says:

      Salvatore, I saw your post at Tallbloke’s and thought it was promising. If I read you right the oceans have a damping effect on temperature changes, which could stretch out to a multi-decadal range.

      I just saw a reference to this, which seems to approach the problem in a similar way.


      On the whole the damping idea appears to be simpler and more attractive than Evans’ competing idea of a filter, but we shall soon have a chance to test Evans’ predictions.

  2. Brad says:

    When the data is adjusted, the increase in temp will become apparent. Fear not Dr. Spencer, 2014 will somehow become the hottest year on record.

  3. JohnKl says:

    Hi Roy,

    You wrote:

    “2) I restrict the analysis to 60 deg. N latitude, to avoid sea ice issues, while the OISST product goes farther north.but I would think that this is such a small area that it would not affect the global averages substantially.”

    Of course, it then remains possible that observed warming results from POV bias.

    Have a great day!

  4. Brian D says:

    Microwave and infrared diverge here and there. Microwave a little warmer in early 2010 but a bit cooler late 2011. Here’s the Reynolds graph from KNMI Explorer set to 2002-2014 anomaly.

  5. Alicia Maravilhao says:

    2014 will certainly not be a banner heat year in Texas!

    At noon today in NE quadrant of Texas, it was 72 degrees Fahrenheit at noon. Noon!! July 18!! You’d have to have lived here some decades to understand how bizarre that is.

    Just sayin… 😉

    • geran says:

      Darn, another person trying for the “Most Cynical Person Ever” award.

      I have sooooo much competition.

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  9. Werner Brozek says:

    Thank you for that! I was wondering if it was for real. Here are the facts so far for Hadsst3:

    For Hadsst3, the average so far is 0.420. The 1998 record average anomaly was 0.416. So the average over the next 6 months needs to be 0.412 or higher to set a record. The June anomaly of 0.562 set an all time record for Hadsst3 beating the previous high of 0.526 set in July 1998. With such a high June anomaly, combined with a need for an average of only 0.412, Hadsst3 seems guaranteed to set a record this year.

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  11. Bob Tisdale says:

    Hi Roy: What are the year-to-date (January to June) average SSTa in 1997 and 2014 for the AMSR-E, TMI, and Windsat satellite datasets? Looking at your graph, I suspect 2014 is higher.


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