Sea surface skin temperature

by A. May, Dec 9, 2020 in WUWT

In previous posts, see here and here, I’ve tried to show that because the oceans cover 71% of Earth and they contain 99% of the thermal energy stored on the Earth’s surface, they dominate the speed and magnitude of climate changes. In all my posts the Earth’s surface is defined as everything from the ocean floor to the top of the atmosphere. The details of the calculation of ocean and atmospheric heat content is detailed in this spreadsheet. The ocean’s huge heat capacity prevents large temperature swings and dampens and delays those that do occur.

Attempting to show the direction, speed, and magnitude of climate change by measuring and averaging atmospheric surface temperatures is pointless, in my opinion. The record we have of atmospheric and ocean surface temperatures is too short and far too inaccurate to provide us with useful trends on a climatic (30 years +) time scale. Further, these records are sporadic measurements in a chaotic surface zone that has large temperature swings. In Montana, United States, for example, recent minimum/maximum temperatures have been as low as -70°F (-57°C) and as high as 117°F (47°C). These enormous swings make measuring year-to-year global average differences of 0.1°C exceedingly difficult. Yet, this is the precision demanded if we are to properly characterize a climate that is only warming at a rate of roughly 1.4°C/century, which is 0.014°C per year and 0.14°C/decade.