EGU21-2936, updated on 03 Mar 2021
EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Quantifying heating biases in marine air temperature observations, ~1790 - present

Thomas Cropper, Elizabeth Kent, David Berry, Richard Cornes, and Beatriz Recinos-Rivas
Thomas Cropper et al.
  • National Oceanography Centre, Marine Physics and Ocean Circulation , United Kingdom of Great Britain – England, Scotland, Wales (

Accurate, long-term time series of near-surface air temperature (AT) are the fundamental datasets on which the magnitude of anthropogenic climate change is scientifically and societally addressed. Across the ocean, these (near-surface) climate records use Sea Surface Temperature (SST) instead of Marine Air Temperature (MAT) and blend the SST and AT over land to create datasets. MAT has often been overlooked as a data choice as daytime MAT observations from ships are known to contain warm biases due to the storage of accumulated solar energy. Two recent MAT datasets, CLASSnmat (1881 – 2019) and UAHNMAT (1900 – 2018), both use night-time MAT observations only. Daytime MAT observations in the International Comprehensive Ocean–Atmosphere Data Set (ICOADS) account for over half of the MAT observations in ICOADS, and this proportion increases further back in time (i.e. pre-1850s). If long-term MAT records over the ocean are to be extended, the use of daytime MAT is vital.


To adjust for the daytime MAT heating bias, and apply it to ICOADS, we present the application of a physics-based model, which accounts for the accumulated energy storage throughout the day. As the ‘true’ diurnal cycle of MAT over the ocean has not been, to-date, adequately quantified, our approach also removes the diurnal cycle from ICOADS observations and generates a night-time equivalent MAT for all observations. We fit this model to MAT observations from groups of ships in ICOADS that share similar heating biases and metadata characteristics. This enables us to use the empirically derived coefficients (representing the physical energy transfer terms of the heating model) obtained from the fit for use in removal of the heating bias and diurnal cycle from ship-based MAT observations throughout ICOADS which share similar characteristics (i.e. we can remove the diurnal cycle from a ship which only reports once daily at noon). This adjustment will create an MAT record of night-time-equivalent temperatures that will enable an extension of the marine surface AT record back into the 18th century.

How to cite: Cropper, T., Kent, E., Berry, D., Cornes, R., and Recinos-Rivas, B.: Quantifying heating biases in marine air temperature observations, ~1790 - present, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-2936,, 2021.

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