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Hoerling M. P., A. Kumar, T. Xu, G. Bates and B. Jha (May 2006): Warm oceans warm land temperatures. EOS Trans. AGU, 87 (19), 189-193. doi:10.1029/2006EO190003

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During 2004, sea surface temperatures (SSTs) were the third warmest in the past 125 years, land surface temperatures were the fourth warmest, and globally averaged temperatures likewise ranked fourth highest [Levinson, 2005]. This article presents evidence that SSTs contributed significantly to the widespread terrestrial and global tropospheric warmth. Every ocean witnessed warm sea surface conditions in 2004, with only the middle latitudes of the Southern Ocean experiencing below average values (Figure 1, top). Much of this warmth was concentrated north of 30°S and included a weak El Nino event in the tropical central Pacific. Terrestrial warmth in 2004 was seen at all locations between 45°N and 45°S.The greatest departures from average temperatures occurred over interior Eurasia and western North America, which experienced increases of up to 2°C (Figure 1, middle). Consistent with the considerable warmth of ocean and land surfaces, much of the global troposphere was also warm in 2004. The thermal expansion of the tropospheric column, whose top is roughly at the 200-millibar pressure surface, is demonstrated by the increase in elevation of that surface worldwide (Figure 1, bottom).

Item Type: Article
Subjects: PSD Publications
Divisions: Physical Sciences Division
DOI: 10.1029/2006EO190003