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The inter-annual/decadal scale variability of the Aegean Sea Surface Temperature (SST) is investigated by means of long-term series of satellite-derived and in situ data. Monthly mean declouded SST maps are constructed over the 1985–2008 period, based on a re-analysis of AVHRR Oceans Pathfinder optimally interpolated data over the Aegean Sea. Basin-average SST time series are also constructed using the ICOADS in situ data over 1950–2006. Results indicate a small SST decreasing trend until the early nineties, and then a rapid surface warming consistent with the acceleration of the SST rise observed on the global ocean scale. Decadal-scale SST anomalies were found to be negatively correlated with the winter North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index over the last 60 years suggesting that along with global warming effects on the regional scale, a part of the long-term SST variability in the Aegean Sea is driven by large scale atmospheric natural variability patterns. In particular, the acceleration of surface warming in the Aegean Sea began nearly simultaneously with the NAO index abrupt shift in the mid-nineties from strongly positive values to weakly positive/negative values.
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