We have performed temperature-dependent electrical transport measurements on known structure single wall carbon nanotubes at low bias. The experiments show a superlinear increase in nanotube resistivity with temperature, which is in contradiction with the linear dependence expected from nanotube acoustic-phonon scattering. The measured electron mean free path is also much lower than expected, especially at medium to high temperatures (>100K). A theoretical model that includes scattering due to surface polar phonon modes of the substrates reproduces the experiments very well. The role of surface phonons is further confirmed by resistivity measurements of nanotubes on aluminum nitride. © 2011 American Physical Society.