Near the first of this month, the NOAA National Weather Service discontinued the sea surface temperature dataset used by Unisys to create their daily sea surface temperature and sea surface temperature anomaly maps. As a result, Unisys has been unable to update those maps. Many persons enjoyed studying the animations (see current sample to the right) because of the color coding of temperature anomalies, in which blues and greens extended into the realm of positive anomalies.
So where can you turn now for your daily fix of peaceful and calming shades of blue?
THE SITE RECOMMENDED BY UNISYS
The color scalings for the temperature anomalies from the website suggested by Unisys are too harsh. It’s from the NOAA National Weather Service Environmental Modeling Center webpage Real-time, global, sea surface temperature (RTG_SST_HR) analysis. See Map 1. A description of that analysis is here.
The maps from the Environmental Modeling Center have three strikes against them:
- Strike 1: I haven’t found animations of those maps. They may exist, but with the other two strikes, I didn’t see any reason to spend too much time looking.
- Strike 2: While they use white as their neutral color, they only use it for the range of +/- 0.25 deg C. That’s way too narrow, giving too much visual “noise”.
- Strike 3: They use 1961 to 1990 as the base years for anomalies. That’s two decades behind the period (1981 to 2010) recommended by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The NOAA Climate Prediction Center updated the climatologies they use for many indices three years ago to 1981 to 2010. The NOAA Environmental Modeling Center should update theirs.
THE BEST I’VE FOUND…SO FAR
There are a number of other suppliers of daily sea surface temperature and anomaly maps, but the one I’ve recently bookmarked as a temporary replacement for those from Unisys come from Environment Canada (EC). See their Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies and Snow Cover – Daily webpage. A recent example is shown in Map 2. Greys are also used on the maps for snow cover and sea ice. Cool.
Brrr. The Main Development Region for hurricanes in the tropical North Atlantic (10N-20N, 80W-20W) looks awfully chilly. Unfortunately, hurricanes don’t care about anomalies. Hurricanes only need the seasonal sea surface temperatures to rise to the levels that support their development and sustain them. Hopefully, the present El Niño conditions in the tropical Pacific will suppress them in the North Atlantic.
- Advantage 1: Animations are available from the Environment Canada webpage here. Users can also select the time period for the animation. The menus are below the map.
- Advantage 2: The range they use for neutral white is +/- 0.5 deg C. That reduces weather noise.
- Advantage 3: The base years used by Environment Canada (1995 to 2009) are closer to present. Unfortunately, they’re only 15 years. I suspect the base years are based either on the snow cover or sea ice data, because satellite-based sea surface temperature data extend back to November 1981.
- Advantage 4: You can watch the seasonal variations in sea ice and snow cover, too.
If you know of others, please let me know.