Monthly Sea-Surface Temperatures

  • Released Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sea-surface temperature is the temperature of the top millimeter of the ocean's surface. Sea-surface temperatures influence weather, including hurricanes, as well as plant and animal life in the ocean. Like Earth's land surface, sea-surface temperatures are warmer near the equator and colder near the poles. Currents like giant rivers move warm and cold water around the world's oceans. Some of these currents flow on the surface, and they are obvious in sea surface temperature images. Special microwave technology allows the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer - Earth Observing System (AMSR-E) sensor on NASA's Aqua satellite to measure sea-surface temperatures through clouds, something no satellite sensor before it was able to do across the whole globe. These maps show monthly sea-surface temperatures from June 2002 to September 2011, as derived from AMSR-E data. AMSR-E ended data collection in October 2011 due to problems with the rotation of its antenna.

For More Information


Based on images by Jesse Allen, NASA's Earth Observatory, using Sea Surface Temperature data from the Advanced Microwave Radiometer for EOS (AMSR-E), courtesy Remote Sensing Systems.

Release date

This page was originally published on Thursday, October 24, 2013.
This page was last updated on Monday, July 15, 2024 at 12:15 AM EDT.


This visualization is related to the following missions:


This visualization can be found in the following series:

Datasets used in this visualization

Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details, nor the data sets themselves on our site.