Advances in Atmospheric Sciences

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 269–282 | Cite as

The reliability of global and hemispheric surface temperature records

  • Philip Jones
Open Access


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.

Key words

surface temperature data SST temperature homogeneity temperature biases urban 


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© The author 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Climatic Research Unit, School of Environmental SciencesUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK
  2. 2.Center of Excellence for Climate Change Research, Department of MeteorologyKing Abdulaziz UniversityJeddahSaudi Arabia

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