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Skin temperature is defined as the temperature of the surface at radiative equilibrium. It forms the interface between soil, snow or ice and the atmosphere.

In ERA-Interim and ERA5 skin temperature (skt, code 235) is derived from the surface energy balance.

For ERA-Interim, the calculation of skin temperature is described in the ECMWF IFS model documentation, cycle 31r2, Part IV: Physical Processes. Note that in ERA-Interim, over ocean, the skin temperature is set to the surface temperature.

For ERA5, the calculation of skin temperature is described in the ECMWF IFS model documentation, cycle 41r2, Part IV: Physical Processes.

Units are Kelvin (K).