US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Progress in Physical Geography 37(1), pp. 29–35. DOI: 10.1177/0309133312460074


U. S. government work.


Mean global surface air temperature (SAT) and sea surface temperature (SST) display substantial variability on timescales ranging from annual to multi-decadal. We review the key recent literature on connections between global SAT and SST variability. Although individual ocean influences on SAT have been recognized, the combined contributions of worldwide SST variability on the global SAT signal have not been clearly identified in observed data.Weanalyze these relations using principal components of detrended SST, and find that removing the underlying combined annual, decadal, and multi-decadal SST variability from the SAT time series reveals a nearly monotonic global warming trend in SAT since about 1900.