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. We analyze 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-35
Number of pages7
JournalProgress in Physical Geography
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013


  • climate change
  • climate variability
  • global change
  • global temperature
  • sea-surface temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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