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Global Sea Surface Temperatures

 Ocean temperatures shape our marine environments.

This image from the National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration in the USA shows the world's sea surface temperatures during late October in 1998. On this image, the temperate (cool water) zones are shown as shades of greens and blues, representing the temperatures from just below 10 degrees Celsuis to the low 20's.

Water temperatures change with the seasons, with temperate areas becoming warmer each summer and cooler each winter as ocean currents encroach and retreat. This cyclical temperature variation shapes the nature of the marine life found in temperate regions.

Some countries, such as Australia, have seas that encompass all of the world's five temperature zones. Other countries - such as Indonesia - have a very narrow temperature range across their waters.

The tropical and sub-tropical waters which separate the world's temperate marine environments act as barriers which prevent many marine animals from moving between northern and southern hemispheres. Despite this environmental barrier which separates temperate marine environments by thousands of kilometres, northern and southern waters can show some remarkable similarities, as well as the differences which could be expected from such separation.

Look for more ocean images via our links page