About the sea surface temperature timeseries graphs

Analyses available

Sea Surface Temperature (SST) timeseries are available from 1900 for a number of regions around Australia. These timeseries include ocean surface temperatures only and do not include any land surface temperatures.

Note that sea surface temperature timeseries are presented as anomalies or departures from the 1961-1990 average because temperature anomalies tend to be more consistent throughout wide areas than actual temperatures. 1961 to 1990 is the current international standard period for the calculation of climate averages.

Mean sea surface temperature values are provided for a boxed region around Australia (from 4°S to 46°S and from 94°E to 174°E), as well as for six regions within this box: the Northern Tropics (4°S–22°S, 94°E–174°E), the Southern Region (30°S–46°S, 94°E–174°E), the Southwest Region (22°S–46°S, 94°E–116°E), the Northwest Region (4°S–22°S, 94°E–130°E), the Coral Sea (4°S–26°S, 142°E–174°E) and the Tasman Sea (26°S–46°S, 150°E–174°E).

These regions are the same as those used to provide trend maps on these pages.

Regions around Australia used in sea surface temperature timeseries

Timeseries are determined for the seven regions shown above

The above areas have been chosen for analysis since they are large enough to contain a meaningful climatology and not be influenced by data and interpolation errors. At the same time, these areas are small enough to provide a meaningful representation of regional climate influences around the Australian continent.

Data used

The sea surface temperature timeseries are calculated from the NOAA Extended Reconstructed Sea Surface Temperature Version 4 (ERSST v4) data provided by the NOAA/ESRL PSD, Boulder, Colorado, USA, from their Web site at http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/. A full description of the ERSST v4 data can be found in Huang et al., (2014) and Liu et al., (2014).

Please note that any use of the data analysed on these web pages should be acknowledged to the Bureau of Meteorology. Apart from the purposes of study, research, criticism and review, no part of these data may be reproduced, or redistributed for any commercial purposes, or distributed to a third party for such purpose, without written permission from the Director of Meteorology.

The actual data values used to produce each graph are available via the "Raw dataset" link. The format for these data is:

    <start year><start month><end year><end month>   <mean temperature anomaly (°C)>

The "Sorted dataset" link provides the timeseries as a sorted list in order to place recent values in historical context.


Further information

Huang, B., V.F. Banzon, E. Freeman, J. Lawrimore, W. Liu, T.C. Peterson, T.M. Smith, P.W. Thorne, S.D. Woodruff, and H.-M. Zhang, 2014: Extended Reconstructed Sea Surface Temperature version 4 (ERSST.v4): Part I. Upgrades and intercomparisons. Journal of Climate, in press, doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00006.1

Liu, W., B. Huang, P.W. Thorne, V.F. Banzon, H.-M. Zhang, E. Freeman, J. Lawrimore, T.C. Peterson, T.M. Smith, and S.D. Woodruff, 2014: Extended Reconstructed Sea Surface Temperature version 4 (ERSST.v4): Part II. Parametric and structural uncertainty estimations. Journal of Climate, in press, doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00007.1