The distributions of correlation coefficient between monthly-mean sea surface temperature tendency (time differential) and 7 years of surface solar irradiance (upper figure) and 4 years of latent heat flux (lower figure) indicate that solar heating and evaporative cooling have a strong influence on the seasonal variation of sea surface temperature over most of the ocean. The low correlation along the equatorial waveguide in the upper figure delineate the region where ocean dynamic is more important than surface heating.

The solar irradiance is derived from cloud information provided by the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) and the latent heat flux is derived using wind and humidity from the Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSMI) and sea surface temperature from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR). A combination of satellite data available from the Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) help to provide unprecedented visualization of the thermodynamics coupling of the global ocean and atmosphere. Details can be found in Liu, et al. (J. Geophys. Res., 99, 12623-12637, 1994)