This paper gives a modern circumscription of Tropical/Subtropical diatoms regarding their relationship with sea-surface temperatures (SST) and sea ice cover. Diatoms from 228 core-top sediment samples collected from the Southern Ocean were studied to determine the geographic distribution of eight major diatom species/taxa preserved in surface sediments generally located north of the Subantarctic Front. The comparison of the relative contribution of diatom species with modern February SST and sea-ice cover reveals species-specific sedimentary distributions regulated both by water temperatures and sea ice conditions. Although selective preservation might have played some role, their presence in surface and downcore sediments from the Southern Ocean are reliable indicators of high SST and poleward transport of waters from the Tropical/Subtropical Atlantic. Our work supports the use of diatom remains to reconstruct past variations of these environmental parameters via qualitative and transfer function approaches.