MadSci Network: Earth Sciences

Re: Where is the warmest ocean beach water temperature on earth ?

Date: Tue Oct 24 21:13:10 2000
Posted By: John Christie, Faculty, School of Chemistry, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia
Area of science: Earth Sciences
ID: 972252516.Es

That, of course, would vary with the weather and the time of year. But you should 
not be too surprised when I tell you that it would be found in an equatorial 
region, under direct sunlight, and with shallow and fairly still waters, possibly 
trapped behind a reef or sandbar. One region that does have beaches with very 
high water temperatures quite consistently is the Indonesian Archipelago. I 
believe, for example, that in Torres Strait, between the Northern tip of 
Australia and Papua Niugini, some of the coastal and island beaches get water 
temperatures into the 40s (celsius) at times, and even the ocean temperature away 
from the beach gets well into the 30s.

I do not know whether that is the highest, but it would go close. I am not even 
quite sure how you would define the highest beach temperatures. For example there 
is a lava beach at the foot of Kilauea in Hawaii where the ocean water is boiling 
and rising in clouds of steam! (because molten lava from a continuing eruption is 
entering the ocean underneath the lava shelf) Perhaps that would be the record?

You can access information about sea surface temperatures from the NOAA website. 
I found a map giving SSTs for September 2000 in the Mexican 
Gulf/Caribbean region, which shows temperature readings around 30C and slightly 
above near the islands of Jamaica and Hispanola. SSTs are defined in terms of a 
sample taken at 1 metre depth, and for the purposes of this map were averages of 
several readings taken at different times, and over a 1 degree square, that is, 
about a 60 mile square. Beach water temperatures at 4 p.m. on a sunny afternoon 
would be warmer than these values. The Caribbean is not unlike the Indonesian 
region in having a lot of islands and a lot of shallow water. It is not as 
extensive, and not as close to the equator.

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