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ISLSCP II Sea Surface Temperature
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Revision date: October 2, 2014


Sea surface temperature (SST) is an important indicator of the state of the earth climate system as well as a key variable in the coupling between the atmosphere and the ocean. Accurate knowledge of SST is essential for climate monitoring, prediction and research. It is also a key surface boundary condition for numerical weather prediction and for other atmospheric simulations using atmospheric general circulation models and regional models. SST also is important in gas exchange between the ocean and atmosphere, including the air-sea flux of carbon. Gridded SST products have been developed to satisfy these needs. There are 3 .zip files provided with this data set.

Gridded monthly and weekly sea surface temperature (SST) and long term SST monthly climatology for the period 1971-2000 are provided here. Weekly normalized error variance fields are also provided with the weekly data. The data are derived using the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Optimum Interpolation (OI) global sea surface temperature analyses that use seven days of in situ (ship and buoy) and satellite SST observations and SST values derived from sea ice concentration. These analyses are produced weekly using optimum interpolation (OI) on a 1-degree grid. The data sets included in the ISLSCP II data collection are produced using version 2 of the OI analyses, called OIv2. In this data set, the ISLSCP II staff have masked land areas based on the ISLSCP II land/water mask. A file describing the differences between the ISLSCP II mask and the original mask used is provided.

Additional Documentation:

This data set is one of the products of the International Satellite Land-Surface Climatology Project, Initiative II (ISLSCP II) data collection which contains 50 global time series data sets for the ten-year period 1986 to 1995. A complete description of the data, it's derivation, acknowledgements, and references provided by the ISLSCP II Data Management Staff is included with this data set as a companion file named 1_sea_surface_temp_doc.pdf.

ISLSCP II is a consistent collection of data sets that were compiled from existing data sources and algorithms, and were designed to satisfy the needs of modelers and investigators of the global carbon, water and energy cycle. The data were acquired from a number of U.S. and international agencies, universities, and institutions. The data and documentation have undergone two peer reviews.

ISLSCP is one of several projects of Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment (GEWEX) [] and has the lead role in addressing land-atmosphere interactions -- process modeling, data retrieval algorithms, field experiment design and execution, and the development of global data sets.

Related Data Sets:

ISLSCP II Global Sea Ice Concentration

ISLSCP II Northern Hemisphere Monthly Snow Cover Extent


Data Citation:

Cite this data set as follows:

Reynolds, R., and  D.C. Stokes. 2010. ISLSCP II Sea Surface Temperature. In Hall, Forrest G., G. Collatz, B. Meeson, S. Los, E. Brown de Colstoun, and D. Landis (eds.). ISLSCP Initiative II Collection.  Data set. Available on-line [] from Oak Ridge National Laboratory Distributed Active Archive Center, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, U.S.A. doi:10.3334/ORNLDAAC/980

File Information:

The archived data sets for ISLSCP II have been organized by categories. This data set is in the Snow, Sea Ice, and Oceans -- a collection of snow, oceans, and sea ice data sets.

Data Set Spatial Extent: Global gridded

Westernmost Longitude: -180 W

Easternmost Longitude: 180 E

Northernmost Latitude: 90 N

Southernmost Latitude: -90 S

Projection: Geographic

Data Set Spatial Resolution: one degree in both latitude and longitude

Data Set Temporal Extent: 1971 through 2000

Data File Format

All of the data files in each data set within the ISLSCP Initiative II data collection are in ASCII GRID format.  The file format consists of numerical fields of varying length, which are delimited by a single space and arranged in columns and rows.

The data files in this data set include:

Data file naming conventions are further described in the 1_sea_surface_temp_doc.pdf  and  0__sea_surface_temp_readme.txt



Reynolds, R.W., N.A. Rayner, T.M. Smith, D.C. Stokes, and W. Wang, 2002: An Improved InSitu and Satellite SST Analysis for Climate, J. Climate, 15, 1609-1625.


Data Access:

These data are available through the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC) [].

Data Archive Contact Information:

Telephone: +1 (865) 241-3952