Transport of air masses in connection with El Niño decoded

The El Niño phenomenon influences the weather in distant regions, as far away as the U.S., India or the Mediterranean region. But how exactly these so-called teleconnections actually work has not yet been clarified completely.

Sea surface temperature

Sea surface temperature (SST) is the water temperature close to the surface.

In practical terms, the exact meaning of surface varies according to the measurement method used. A satellite infrared radiometer indirectly measures the temperature of a very thin layer of about 10 micrometres thick (referred to as the skin) of the ocean which leads to the phrase skin temperature (because infrared radiation is emitted from this layer). A microwave instrument measures subskin temperature at about 1 mm. A thermometer attached to a moored or drifting buoy in the ocean would measure the temperature at a specific depth, (e.g. at 1 meter below the sea surface) — this temperature during the day is called temperature of the warm layer. The measurements routinely made from ships are often from the engine water intakes and may be at various depths in the upper 20 m of the ocean. In fact, this temperature is often called sea surface temperature, or foundation temperature. Note that the depth of measurement in this case will vary with the cargo aboard the vessel.

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