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You are here: Home / Data and maps / Indicators / Sea surface temperature / Sea surface temperature (CLIM 013) - Assessment published Nov 2012

Sea surface temperature (CLIM 013) - Assessment published Nov 2012

Generic metadata

Topics:

Climate change Climate change (Primary topic)

Coasts and seas Coasts and seas

Tags:
sea surface
DPSIR: Impact
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • CLIM 013
Dynamic
Temporal coverage:
1870-2011
 
Contents
 

Key policy question: What is the trend in surface water temperature across European seas?

Key messages

  • Sea surface temperature in European seas is increasing more rapidly than in the global oceans.
  • The rate of increase in sea surface temperature in all European seas during the past 25 years is the largest ever measured in any previous 25-year period. It has been about 10 times faster than the average rate of increase during the past century and beyond.
  • Global sea surface temperature is projected to rise more slowly than atmospheric temperature.

Annual average sea surface temperature anomaly in different European seas

Note: Time series of annual average sea surface temperature (°C), referenced to the average temperature between 1986 and 2010, in each of the European seas. Data sources: SST datasets from the Hadley Centre (HADISST1 (global)), MOON-ENEA (Mediterranean Sea), and Bundesamt für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrographie (Baltic and North Seas), and MyOcean.

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Mean annual sea surface temperature trend in European seas

Note: Spatial distribution of sea surface temperature trend over the past 25 years (1987-2011) for the European seas as calculated from the HADISST1 dataset. The units are °C/yr. Source: HADSST1 dataset (http://hadobs.metoffice.com/hadisst/data/download.html), masked where ice coverage constituted more than 20% of the sea water.

Data source:
Downloads and more info

Key assessment

Past trends

SST is increasing globally and in Europe’s seas [i] but the rate of warming varies across European seas (Figure 1 and 2). Observed changes in SST of the global ocean and the regional seas of Europe are consistent with the changes in atmospheric temperature [ii].

Projections

Global SST is projected to rise more slowly than atmospheric temperature. Initially ocean warming will be largest in the upper 100 m of the ocean, but warming will continue to penetrate in the deep ocean during the 21st century [iii] (Watterson, 2003; Stouffer, 2004; IPCC, 2007). It is not possible to project changes in SST or the different geographic regions across Europe because the spatial resolution of the coupled ocean-climate models is not high enough to evaluate trends on the scale of individual European regional seas.


[i] Claude Frankignoul and Elodie Kestenare, „Observed Atlantic SST anomaly impact on the NAO: an update“, Journal of Climate 18, Nr. 19 (Oktober 2005): 4089–4094.

[ii] S. Levitus, „Warming of the World Ocean“, Science 287, Nr. 5461 (März 24, 2000): 2225–2229; N. A. Rayner et al., „Improved analyses of changes and uncertainties in sea surface temperature measured in situ since the mid-nineteenth century: the HadSST2 dataset“, Journal of Climate 19, Nr. 3 (Februar 2006): 446–469.

[iii] I. G. Watterson, „Effects of a dynamic ocean on simulated climate sensitivity to greenhouse gases“, Climate Dynamics 21 (2003): 197–209; R.J. Stouffer, „Time scales of climate response“, Journal of Climate 17 (2004): 209–217; IPCC, Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, S. Solomon et al. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/contents.html.

Data sources

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Trine Christiansen

Ownership

EEA Management Plan

2012 2.0.1 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled every 4 years in October-December (Q4)
Document Actions
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European Environment Agency (EEA)
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Phone: +45 3336 7100