The reliability of global and hemispheric surface temperature records

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)
20 Downloads (Pure)


The purpose of this review article is to discuss the development and associated estimation of uncertainties in the global and hemispheric surface temperature records. The review begins by detailing the groups that produce surface temperature datasets. After discussing the reasons for similarities and differences between the various products, the main issues that must be addressed when deriving accurate estimates, particularly for hemispheric and global averages, are then considered. These issues are discussed in the order of their importance for temperature records at these spatial scales: biases in SST data, particularly before the 1940s; the exposure of land-based thermometers before the development of louvred screens in the late 19th century; and urbanization effects in some regions in recent decades. The homogeneity of land-based records is also discussed; however, at these large scales it is relatively unimportant. The article concludes by illustrating hemispheric and global temperature records from the four groups that produce series in near-real time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-282
Number of pages14
JournalAdvances in Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number3
Early online date10 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016


  • surface temperature data
  • SST
  • temperature homogeneity
  • temperature biases
  • urban

Cite this