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Climate Data and Data Related Products

Monthly Mean Global Surface Temperature

Image: Goddard Institute for Space Studies

Data produced from meteorological and climatological networks and various research projects represent a valuable and often unique resource, acquired with substantial expenditure of time, money and effort. Many of the ultimate uses for climate data cannot be foreseen when the data acquisition programmes are being planned, and frequently new applications emerge, long after the information is acquired. The initial use of meteorological and related data for weather forecasting is often only the first of many applications. Subsequent analysis of the data for many and diverse purposes leads to a significant and on going enhancement in the return from the original investment in the data acquisition programmes. The global climate change issue, for example, is stretching the requirements for climate data and data management systems far beyond those originally conceived when the original networks were established.

However, the main interest in the use of observed climatological data  is  not  to simply describe the data, but to make inferences from the data that  are helpful to users  of climatological information. Statistics from the observed data is used to make such inferences. Statistics  is the tool used to bridge the gap between the raw data and useful information, and is used for analyzing data and climate models and for climate prediction. For example, statistics are used to identify trends in climate such as precipitation days or degree days.

The World Climate Data and Monitoring Programme (WCDMP) is a program of the WMO’s World Climate Programme (WCP) that facilitates the effective collection and management of climate data and the monitoring of the global climate system. As a result the programme has several products and services related to climate data.

Global Climate Data Sets

Climate Normals

Climate “normals” are reference points used by climatologists to compare current climatological trends to that of the past or what is considered “normal”.  A Normal is defined as the arithmetic average of a climate element (e.g. temperature) over a 30-year period.  A 30 year period is used, as it is long enough to filter out any interannual variation or anomalies, but also short enough to be able to show longer climatic trends. The current climate normal period is calculated from  1 January 1961 to 31 December 1990.

[More in depth information] Climate Normal data can be purchased from the WMO website.

[Further information] about Climate Normals can be found on the  World Climate Data and Monitoring Programme (WCDMP) website.

World Weather Records

Started in 1923,  the WWR is a monumental international undertaking producing a large volume of monthly temperature, precipitation and pressure data from hundreds of stations around the world. Some stations have been collecting data from the  early 1800s and the  project continues today. The WMO produces a digital publication of decadal climate records for thousands of stations worldwide.

The first issue included data from earliest records available at that time up to 1920. Data have been collected for periods 1921-30 (2nd Series), 1931-40 (3rd Series), 1941-50 (4th Series), 1951-60 (5th Series), 1961-70 (6th Series), 1971-80 (7th Series), 1981-90 (8th Series), and 1991-2000 (9th Series).

[Further information] on the WWR is available at the World Data Centre for Meteorology at the NOAA/National Climatic Data Centre (NCDC) where all the data is stored.

World Weather and Climate Extremes Records

Tornado

Image: yazz86 via Flickr

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Commission for Climatology (CCl) maintains a data base on world weather and climate extremes. The records are verified and made available to the general public. The goal of this database is to archive and verify extreme record events, such as the highest/lowest recorded temperatures and pressures on Earth, the strongest winds, the greatest precipitation (over different time intervals) as well as records involving the world's most destructive storms, hurricanes and tornadoes. The data base is hosted by the Arizona State University (ASU) in USA.

[Further information] and access to the data can be found on the WMO-CCl/ASU web site.

Global Surface Temperature Data Sets

The global surface temperature assessment is based on the instrumental records of the air temperature measured at 1.25 to 2 meters above the surface level on the land. Sea surface temperature measurements are recorded by various observation platforms, including ships and buoys. The annual assessment is based on these measurements. The image at the top of this page illustrates the use of this data.

[Further information] These data sets are available from the World Climate Data and Monitoring Programme website

Global Precipitation Data Sets

Global precipitation data are collected from rain gauge observations and often merged with precipitation estimates from satellites. The Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP), which is part of one of WCRP's core projects, provides a comprehensive source of information on global precipitation analyses. Global precipitation data sets are maintained by few organisations, amongst them the Global Precipitation Climatology Centre, hosted by Deutscher Wetterdienst/Germany, the US Climate Prediction Centre  and the US National Climatic Data Centre.

[More in depth information] on the Global Precipitation climatology project as well as the data sets can be found here.

Other Global Data Sets

Several centres around the world, collect, archive, and make available global data sets on climate as well as other relevant elements such as aerosols and Ozone.

[Further information] A list of these world data centres and their websites is available from the WMO worldclimate data and monitoring programme website.

Regional Climate Data Sets

Data sets from WMO Regional Climate Centres

Regional climate data sets are developed by WMO Regional Climate Centres. These are Centres of Excellence that assist WMO Members in a given region to deliver better climate services and products including data collection and management, and to strengthen their capacity to meet national climate information needs.

[More in depth information] The WMO Regional Climate Centres for Asia have a website where more informationabout their work and products can be found.

[More in depth information] The WMO Regional Climate Centre Network for Europe is just being established. Youcan find more information about that network here.

[Further information] about the WMO Regional Climate Centres can be found here on the World Climate Applications and Services Programme Website.

National Climate Data Sets

National climate data collection is the responsibility of the National Meteorological and Hydrological Service (NMHS).  Most HMHSs collect and manage national climate data to help with forecasting and predictions.

[Further information] WMO keeps a list of all the websites of member country NMHSs. The list can be found on the members page of the WMO website.

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