If you are referring to the ocean -- the
temperature at the surface is usually measured
from space using infrared techniques. The basic
idea is that any object emits radiation
depending on its temperature (if it gets hot
enough you can see it -- like a stove burner or a
fire). For the most part, this radiation depends
primarily on the temperature of the object. The
technique is essentially the same as the modern
remote thermometers used in doctor's offices these
days that take the temperature of your eardrum
without touching it.
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