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Sea surface temperature

Key finding

Sea-surface temperatures in the Coral Sea and around northern Australia are about +1oC warmer on average than 100 years ago, with record warmth occurring in 2016.

The Coral Sea region (4°S–26°S, 142°E–174°E) borders most of Queensland’s east coast. The Northern Tropics region (4°S–22°S, 94°E–174°E), which is more extensive, includes the Coral Sea, the Gulf of Carpentaria and the eastern Indian Ocean. For these regions, sea-surface temperature (SST) anomalies date back to 1900.

In 2016, SSTs in these regions were the warmest on record:

  • Coral Sea region SSTs averaged 28.0°C (+0.9°C warmer than the 1961 to 1990 average)
  • Northern Tropics region SSTs averaged 28.5°C (+1.0°C warmer than average).

In both regions, SST anomalies have exceeded the 1961 to 1990 average every year since 1998, with 9 of the 10 warmest years on record occurring in this century.

A warming trend in these regions has been evident across the entire period of record, resulting in SSTs that are now about +1°C warmer, on average, than 100 years ago.

More information:

Indicator: Current sea-surface temperature and changes over time

Annual mean Sea Surface Temperature (SST) anomaly, including a 10-year rolling average. A SST anomaly indicates the amount of temperature variance, negative or positive, from the mean temperature within a set 30-year time period (1961-1990). Data is current as at December 2017.

Download data from Queensland Government data

Last updated 12 February 2020