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The Global Historical Climatology Network: Long-Term Monthly Temperature, Precipitation, Sea Level Pressure, and Station Pressure Data (1992) (NDP-041)

DOI: 10.3334/CDIAC/cli.ndp041

data Data  PDF PDF File  graphics NDP-041 Temperature Stations  graphics NDP-041 Precipitation Stations

Please note: the latest version of the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN) is available directly from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center.


R. S. Vose, R. L. Schmoyer, P. M. Steurer, T. C. Peterson, R. Heim, T. R. Karl, and J. K. Eischeid

This NDP contains monthly temperature, precipitation, sea-level pressure, and station-pressure data for thousands of meteorological stations worldwide. The database was compiled from pre-existing national, regional, and global collections of data as part of the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN) project, the goal of which is to produce, maintain, and make available a comprehensive global surface baseline climate data set for monitoring climate and detecting climate change. It contains data from roughly 6000 temperature stations, 7500 precipitation stations, 1800 sea level pressure stations, and 1800 station pressure stations. Each station has at least 10 years of data, 40% have more than 50 years of data. Spatial coverage is good over most of the globe, particularly for the United States and Europe. Data gaps are evident over the Amazon rainforest, the Sahara desert, Greenland, and Antarctica.

The earliest station data are from 1697; the most recent from 1990. The database was created from 15 source data sets, including:

  • The National Climatic Data Center's (NCDC's) World Weather Records
  • CAC's Climate Anomaly Monitoring System (CAMS)
  • NCAR's World Monthly Surface Station Climatology
  • CIRES' (Eischeid/Diaz) Global precipitation data set
  • P. Jones' Temperature data base for the world
  • S. Nicholson's African precipitation data base

Quality Control of the database included visual inspection of graphs of all station time series, tests for precipitation digitized 6 months out of phase, tests for different stations having identical data, and other tests. This detailed analysis has revealed that most stations (95% for temperature and precipitation; 75% for pressure) contain high-quality data. However, gross data-processing errors (e.g., keypunch problems) and discontinuous inhomogeneities (e.g., station relocations and instrumentation changes) do characterize a small number of stations. All major data processing problems have been flagged (or corrected, when possible). Similarly, all major inhomogeneities have been flagged, although no homogeneity corrections were applied.

GHCN Version 1 (NDP-041) was produced jointly by the U.S. Department of Energy's Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) in Asheville, North Carolina.

Version 2 of GHCN is now available directly from NCDC. Version 2 currently contains monthly mean temperature data and precipitation totals. Pressure data is only available from Version 1 of the database. Version 2 monthly mean temperature data have been updated and expanded to include additional stations from many countries. Also, monthly mean maximum and minimum temperature data are available from a large number of the mean temperature stations.

GHCN v2 data for some countries may not be available on line from NCDC. The data summaries provided through the NCDC v2 link above are based on data exchanged under the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) World Weather Watch Program according to WMO Resolution 40 (Cg-XII). This allows WMO member countries to place restrictions on the use or re-export of their data for commecial purposes outside the receiving country.