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  • 13-Dec-08 The Problem with Sea Surface Temperature (SST) (2)
  • SEPP Science Editorial #15
    (in TWTW Dec 13, 2008)

    S. Fred Singer, Chairman and President , Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)

    The Problem with Sea Surface Temperature (SST) (2)

    Dec 13, 2008

    Oceans cover 71% of the Earth's surface; SST essentially determines surface temperature. While not subject to the problems of land temperature data (urban heat islands, weather station placement and maintenance, etc), SST has even more severe problems, mainly related to coverage and to changes in methods of measurement. Just recently, the Hadley Centre had to fix a 'glitch' caused by a change from wooden to canvas sampling buckets, which led to a temperature 'discontinuity.'

    Since 1980 we have a situation where data from floating buoys (from a warm layer of about 50 cm depth) are increasingly combined with ship inlet data (from a colder layer at depth of ~10 m). Could this lead to a fictitious warming trend? How to check whether this produces a problem? One method would be to process ship data and buoy data separately before combining them. I have not been successful in penetrating the data analysis bureaucracy to arrange for such a test. But there may be a simpler way (which I first proposed at a conference in Erice in 2005): Compare day-time and night-time SST trends. If they do not differ, then the 'buoy effect' is likely of little importance.

    Singer, S. F. (2006). How effective is greenhouse warming of sea surface temperatures? In International Seminar on Nuclear War and Planetary Emergencies. Climatology: Global Warming. (ed. A Zichichi and R. Ragini). World Scientific Publishing Company, Singapore. pp. 176-182.

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