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Global Sea Surface Temperatures—Climatology

This movie shows the average distribution of sea surface temperatures across the world's oceans during the course of a year, beginning in June. Temperatures are warmest in the tropical regions and generally decrease with latitude. The distribution of temperatures does not remain fixed in time, however. Notice that for about six months prior to late August the warmer waters migrate northward, which is a lagged response to the varying solar declination. Also note the difference in temperatures off the west and east coasts of North America. At low latitudes the temperatures are warmer along the Atlantic coast than along the Pacific. In contrast, the east coast of Canada and New England tend to have cooler waters than the west coast of North America, because of the cool temperatures associated with the Labrador current.

this page from Understanding Weather and Climate by E. Aguado and J.E. Burt, copyright 2001, by Prentice-Hall, Inc