I'm working on piecing together a game that involve sea trading, loosely based on historical conditions. As a part of making the game, I'm creating a map. From that map, I'm trying to determine what the temperature is, at least on average, for a number of reasons. I'm also going to include a seasonal model to it. What I'm trying to do is to find a first order estimate of the average temperature by day and by latitude, at sea level. I know that this varies tremendously based on a number of factors, but it seems to me that assuming equal distance to the sun, a perfectly spherical Earth with a known axial tilt, and some other reasonable assumptions, there should be a model that will work, which I can add to some noise to cover some of the other sources of error.

Bottom line, is there a relatively simple model of latitude and time of year vs average temperature at sea level? Bonus points if it includes a difference by altitude. Thanks!

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    $\begingroup$ Maybe you can start with insolation: pveducation.org/pvcdrom/properties-of-sunlight/… $\endgroup$
    – arkaia
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 16:01
  • $\begingroup$ That looks like a good start, that's the kind of thing that I'm looking for, thanks! $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 16:03
  • $\begingroup$ You can use satellite data and show average temperature at each point in your path. But if you really need a simple model, use this link aps.org/units/fps/newsletters/200807/hafemeister.cfm and approximate the temperature value as a function of latitude and time of the year following the path of the sun. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 22:32

1 Answer 1


Simple? Depends upon the level of accuracy you are looking for. Insolation alone is a rough indicator of sea surface temperatures.
enter image description here image from http://www.ospo.noaa.gov/Products/ocean/sst/contour/

In more detail SSTs around the globe are significantly influenced by oceanic currents which, in turn, are very strongly influenced by the distribution of continents.

  • $\begingroup$ This will be good enough for my purposes. I only want to make something that looks somewhat realistic, not a high fidelity model. After all, the game is about sea trading, not weather. Thanks! $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 23, 2016 at 11:53

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