A Very Quick Introduction to NOAA’s New “Pause-Buster 2” Sea Surface Temperature Dataset ERSST.v5

A Very Quick Introduction to NOAA’s New “Pause-Buster 2” Sea Surface Temperature Dataset ERSST.v5


I will soon be publishing again my Monthly Global Surface (Land+Ocean) and Lower Troposphere Temperature Anomaly posts at my blog ClimateObservations and at WattsUpWithThat . Since my last update back in December 2015, NOAA has once again revised their Extended Reconstructed Sea Surface Temperature dataset, from the “PAUSE-BUSTER” ERSST.v4 version to ERSST.v5, the latter of which I’ve appropriately dubbed NOAA’s “PAUSE-BUSTER 2” sea surface temperature data.

Because NOAA NCEI and GISS now use the new NOAA ERSST.v5 data in their global land+ocean surface temperature anomaly products, we’ll take a quick look at this new NOAA ERSST dataset. This is a quick introduction with only two comparison graphs. I’ll expand the examination of the new “Pause-Buster 2” ERSST.v5 data sometime in the future.

A couple of years ago, we examined NOAA’s ERSST.v4 “pause-buster” data in a series of six posts, which are summarized and linked in the two final posts of the series:

The new “Pause-Buster 2” ERSST.v5 sea surface temperature data is supported by the September 2017 paper Huang et al. Extended Reconstructed Sea Surface Temperature, Version 5 (ERSSTv5): Upgrades, Validations, and Intercomparisons.


Figure 1 presents the most recent three versions of NOAA’s ERSST sea surface temperature data in annual absolute (not anomaly) form, globally, excluding the polar oceans (60S-60N), for the period of 1998 to 2014, which was one of the periods used by NOAA in their 2015 Karl et al. paper Possible artifacts of data biases in the recent global surface warming hiatus.

Figure 1

I don’t recall in past posts comparing the ERSST.v4 “pause buster” and ERSST.v3b data in annual absolute form. Curiously, on an annual basis, those two datasets track almost perfectly from 1998 to 2003. And comparing the two “pause-buster” datasets, during the NOAA selected period of 1998 to 2014, the warming rates of the global (60S-60N) ERSST.v4 “pause-buster” and ERSST.v5 “pause-buster 2” datasets are basically the same.

Note also that the latest ERSST.v5 “pause-buster 2” data have the surfaces of the global oceans cooler than the ERSST.v4 “pause-buster” data by 0.1 deg C.

Why is that important?

With the ERSST.v4 “pause-buster” data, the climate models used by the IPCC for their 5th Assessment Report (stored in the CMIP5 archive) were showing modeled virtual sea surface temperatures that were warmer than the observations for world ocean surfaces.

With the new “pause-buster 2” ERSST.5 data, there is now a greater difference between models and observations. See the model-data comparison of global (60S-60N) sea surface temperatures in Figure 2, which runs annually for the past 30 years.

Figure 2

And as expected, climate model tuning clearly ensures too much warming over the past 30 years.

For the comparison, I’ve used the multi-model mean of the TOS (Temperature Ocean Surface) from the CMIP5-archived models, which, again, were used by the IPCC for their 5th Assessment Report. The multi-model mean represents the consensus (or, better said, groupthink) of the modeling groups.


The ERSST.v4 and ERSST.v5 data and the CMIP5 climate model outputs are available for free at the KNMI Climate Explorer. (Thank you, Geert Jan.) The ERSST.v3b data are no longer available there, but I had them on file from the earlier posts.


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