We suggest a new nonlinear expansion of space-distributed observational time series. The expansion allows constructing principal nonlinear manifolds holding essential part of observed variability. It yields low-dimensional hidden time series interpreted as internal modes driving observed multivariate dynamics as well as their mapping to a geographic grid. Bayesian optimality is used for selecting relevant structure of nonlinear transformation, including both the number of principal modes and degree of nonlinearity. Furthermore, the optimal characteristic time scale of the reconstructed modes is also found. The technique is applied to monthly sea surface temperature (SST) time series having a duration of 33 years and covering the globe. Three dominant nonlinear modes were extracted from the time series: the first efficiently separates the annual cycle, the second is responsible for ENSO variability, and combinations of the second and the third modes explain substantial parts of Pacific and Atlantic dynamics. A relation of the obtained modes to decadal natural climate variability including current hiatus in global warming is exhibited and discussed.