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Climate Data Record Program

Climate Data Record Program

The mission of NOAA's Climate Data Record Program is to develop and implement a robust, sustainable, and scientifically defensible approach to producing and preserving climate records from satellite data.


The National Research Council (NRC) defines a CDR as a time series of measurements of sufficient length, consistency, and continuity to determine climate variability and change. (National Research Council, 2004).

For the first time, NOAA is applying modern data analysis methods, which have advanced significantly in the last decade, to these historical global satellite data. This process will unravel the underlying climate trend and variability information and return new economic and scientific value from the records. In parallel, NCEI will maintain and extend these Climate Data Records by applying the same methods to present-day and future satellite measurements.


The results will provide trustworthy information on how, where and to what extent the land, oceans, atmosphere and ice sheets are changing. In turn, this information will be used by energy, water resources, agriculture, human health, national security, coastal community and other interest groups. Our CDR data will improve the Nation's resilience to climate change and variability, maintain our economic vitality and improve the security and well-being of the public.


In addition to embracing the National Research Council CDR definition (Climate Data Records from Environmental Satellites: Interim Report 2004) , NOAA operational CDRs are routinely assessed for quality and systematically generated. The first step in establishing an operational CDR includes public posting of the source code that generated the CDR dataset, the dataset itself, and supporting documentation through a six-phase Research-to-Operations process that is described in the Developers Guidelines.

Once posted to NCEI webpage, the CDRs are grouped by Fundamental CDRs and Thematic (Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Terrestrial) CDRs. Fundamental CDRs are sensor data (e.g. calibrated radiances, brightness temperatures) that have been improved and quality controlled over time, together with the ancillary data used to calibrate them. Thematic CDRs are geophysical variables derived from the FCDRs, such as sea surface temperature and sea ice concentration, and they are specific to various disciplines. Thematic CDRs are often generated by blending satellite observations, in-situ data, and/or model output. 

Program Fact Sheet