NCDC Frequently Asked Questions
How is the average global temperature anomaly time series calculated?
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The global time series is produced from the Smith and Reynolds blended land and ocean data set (Smith and Reynolds, 2005). This data set consists of monthly average temperature anomalies on a 5° x 5° grid across land and ocean surfaces. These grid boxes are then averaged to provide an average global temperature anomaly. An area-weighted scheme is used to reflect the reality that the boxes are smaller near the poles and larger near the equator. Global-average anomalies are calculated on a monthly and annual time scale. Average temperature anomalies are also available for land and ocean surfaces separately, and the Northern and Southern Hemispheres separately. The global and hemispheric anomalies are provided with respect to the period 1901-2000, the 20th century average.
Smith, T. M., and R. W. Reynolds (2005), A global merged land air and sea surface temperature reconstruction based on historical observations (1880-1997), J. Climate, 18, 2021-2036.