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Animations of Sea Surface Temperature (SST) maps produced by Mike Chin (JPL) using a multi-resolution method for blending the different satellite SST products. One year of daily SST maps from 2010 were used to produce these animations. The most evident signal in the SST maps is the annual cycle; SST starts to warm up during spring, maximum values occur in late summer or early fall, cooling in the fall, and minimum values are observed at the end of winter.
Evident in many of these images is the presence of ocean eddies such as coherent vortices. Examples of coherent vortices in the ocean include Gulf Stream rings, Agulhas rings, N. Brazil rings, the Great Whirl off of Somali, and the Minandano eddy. Away from the major ocean currents, eddies primarily propagate to the west. There are many examples of these in the observations. Also evident is wave-like motion especially in the tropical ocean and along the boundaries of features where there is a strong temperature gradient, i.e. places where SST changes rapidly in the horizontal. The smallest waves are associated with frontal instabilities while the largest waves are planetary waves known as Rossby Waves.
Local temperature changes, other than the annual signal, is due to changes in the overlying atmosphere with periods associated weather, 3-14 days. An example of this is the passage of an atmospheric front leading to a changes in the air temperature and the amount of clouds. Cold air removes heat from the ocean surface and more clouds reduces the amount of incoming solar radiation that is available to warm the ocean surface.