Where can I get current sea-surface temperature data?

The USGS has studied sea-surface temperature in many areas around the globe; you can find publications from these studies in the USGS Publications Warehouse and by searching on the Internet.

World maps and data are available from other agencies, particularly at the NOAA's Sea Surface Temperature , and at the JPL Physical Oceanography Distributed Active Archive Center

For specific data covering coastal areas, consult the NOAA CoastWatch Program.

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Where can I find bathymetric data?

The USGS has made bathymetric surveys for many coastal areas and for selected rivers and lakes in the U.S., including Yellowstone Lake, Crater Lake, and Lake Tahoe. Information and data for those studies is on the USGS Maps of America's Submerged Lands website. NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) is the primary source of...

What is marine geology?

Geology is the study of the Earth. This includes how the Earth was formed, how the Earth has changed since it was formed, the materials that make up the Earth, and the processes that act on it. Marine Geology focuses on areas affected by our oceans including the deep ocean floor, the shallower slopes and shelves that surround the continents, and...

Why is the ocean salty?

Oceans cover about 70 percent of the Earth's surface and about 97 percent of all water on and in the Earth is saline —there's a lot of salty water on our planet. By some estimates, if the salt in the ocean could be removed and spread evenly over the Earth’s land surface it would form a layer more than 500 feet (166 meters) thick, about the height...

What is "El Niño" and what are its effects?

The term El Niño (Spanish for 'the Christ Child') refers to a warming of the ocean surface (or above-average sea surface temperatures) in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. The low-level surface winds, which normally blow from east to west along the equator (“easterly winds”), instead weaken or, in some cases, start blowing the other...
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Date published: February 14, 2017

Severe West Coast Erosion During 2015-16 El Niño

In a study released today, U.S. Geological Survey scientists and their colleagues document how the 2015-16 winter featured one of the most powerful El Niño climate events of the last 145 years.

Date published: March 4, 2016

USGS Science for an El Niño Winter

El Niño is a phenomenon that occurs when unusually warm ocean water piles up along the equatorial west coast of South America. When this phenomenon develops, it affects weather patterns around the globe, including the winter weather along the west coast of North America. This unusual pattern of sea surface temperatures occurs in irregular cycles about three to seven years apart.

Attribution: Natural Hazards
Date published: September 21, 2015

El Niño and La Niña will Exacerbate Coastal Hazards Across Entire Pacific

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — The projected upsurge of severe El Niño and La Niña events will cause an increase in storm events leading to extreme coastal flooding and erosion in populated regions across the Pacific Ocean, according to a multi-agency study published today in Nature Geoscience.

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February 20, 2018

Terra MODIS Global Land Surface Temperature 2017

Observe changes in land surface temperature over the course of 2017, with Terra MODIS images. The images were created using the 8-day composite Terra MODIS LST data product (MOD11C2). To learn more about MODIS LST data, and other data products distributed by the LP DAAC, please visit https://lpdaac.usgs.gov/.

 An instrumented bottom lander platform is lowered off the stern of the research vessel
January 31, 2018

Oceanographic Equipment Deployment

An instrumented bottom lander platform is lowered off the stern of the R/V Savannah during deploment

Observed El Niño sea surface temperature anomalies
December 15, 2016

Observed El Niño sea surface temperature anomalies

Observed Niño 3.4 sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies (vertical bars) and estimates of El Niño SST anomalies. Comared to an ensemble of climate change simulations (red line).  USGS image produced by Chris Funk.

El Nino map
April 14, 2016

El Nino map

The reds and orange colors on this world map indicate warmer sea surface temperatures. The large band of warmer waters along the equator west of South America is characteristic of El Niño. Image credit: NOAA

Image: Polar Bear Exits the Ocean
June 14, 2014

Polar Bear Exits the Ocean

Polar bear pulling himself out of the ocean onto the sea ice.

Attribution: Ecosystems
Image: Sun over Arctic Ocean
August 1, 2012

Sun over Arctic Ocean

Picture of the sun over the Arctic Ocean taken from atop the bridge over the bow of the USGC Healy

Attribution: Land Resources
November 25, 2008

What is "El Nino" and what are its effects?

Listen to hear the answer.

Image: Conductivity Temperature Depth Profiler (CTD) in Arctic Ocean
September 1, 2008

Conductivity Temperature Depth Profiler (CTD) in Arctic Ocean

The Conductivity Temperature Depth Profiler (CTD) is being lowered in the Arctic Ocean to collect water samples and measure conductivity and temperature as a function of water depth.

Image: Red Morning Sunrise on Atlantic Ocean
August 23, 2008

Red Morning Sunrise on Atlantic Ocean

Red morning sunrise on the Atlantic Ocean as seen from a barrier island.

Attribution: Ecosystems
Graph showing monthly values for the AMO index, 1856-2013. Warm and cool temperature cycles are depicted by red and blue.

Atlantic Ocean's Warm vs. Cool Cycles

This study linked major flooding across Europe and North America to the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation -- a natural pattern of warm and cool phases in North Atlantic sea-surface temperatures. We’ve been in a warm phase since the late-1990s. By Giorgiogp2 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://