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35-year data record charts sea-temperature change

05 December 2019

Four trillion satellite measurements, taken over four decades from 1981 to 2018, have been merged to create a continuous global record that will help to understand the science behind Earth's climate.

A paper published recently in Nature Scientific Data describes how this new dataset of global sea-surface temperature is one of the longest satellite climate data records available. The dataset will play a key role in evaluating global models used to predict how our oceans will influence future climate change.

With the demand for action on climate change louder than ever before, scientific evidence such as this underpins policy on combatting climate change – as being highlighted at the current UN COP25 Climate Change Conference in Madrid, Spain.

Monitoring the skin, or surface, temperature of the world's oceans is important for climate science, with the United Framework Convention on Climate Change considering it as an Essential Climate Variable.

Exchanges of heat and water vapour between the ocean and the atmosphere influence the generation and intensity of tropical hurricanes and can also modify regional weather patterns, causing serious drought and flood events by diverting storms – a key signature of the El Niño and Indian Ocean dipole climate phenomena.
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