Sea surface temperature is an important measure of the heat content on the surface layer of the ocean. It is plays an important role in marine ecology, as well as ocean-atmosphere interaction. For example, a cold ocean along the west coast of South Africa results inhibits convection, thereby suppressing rainfall and keeping adjacent landmass relatively dry. The warm Agulhas Current, flowing along South Africa’s east coast, transfers heat energy to the overlaying atmosphere. This causes air to rise and condense, thereby causing rainfall along the lush east coast.

The data presented here are from the Operational Sea Surface Temperature and Ice Analysis (OSTIA) project, run by the UK Met Office. They are made available courtesy of the E.U. Copernicus Marine Service. The product is a fusion of in-situ and satellite data, collected by infrared and microwave radiometers. Please see the Copernicus product page for more information.