Global Historical Climatology Network

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About the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN)


The Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN-Monthly) data base contains historical temperature, precipitation, and pressure data for thousands of land stations worldwide. The period of record varies from station to station, with several thousand extending back to 1950 and several hundred being updated monthly via CLIMAT reports. The data are available without charge through NCDC’s anonymous FTP service.

Both historical and near-real-time GHCN data undergo rigorous quality assurance reviews. These reviews include preprocessing checks on source data, time series checks that identify spurious changes in the mean and variance, spatial comparisons that verify the accuracy of the climatological mean and the seasonal cycle, and neighbor checks that identify outliers from both a serial and a spatial perspective.

GHCN-Monthly is used operationally by NCDC to monitor long-term trends in temperature and precipitation. It has also been employed in several international climate assessments, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 4th Assessment Report, the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, and the "State of the Climate" report published annually by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

Access the Data

Further Data

Visit the wiki for the main National Climatic Data Center, of which the GHCN is a subset:

National Climatic Data Center

Contents of the Data

GHCN-Monthly contains mean temperature data for 7,280 stations (Figure 1) and maximum/minimum temperature data for 4,966 stations (Figure 2). All have at least 10 years of data. The archive also contains homogeneity-adjusted data for a subset of this network (5,206 mean temperature stations and 3,647 maximum/minimum temperature stations). The homogeneity-adjusted network is somewhat smaller because at least 20 years of data were required to compute reliable discontinuity adjustments and the homogeneity of some isolated stations could not be adequately assessed. Precipitation data are available for 20,590 stations (Figure 3) and sea level pressure data for 2,668 stations (Figure 4). In general, the best spatial coverage is evident in North America, Europe, Australia, and parts of Asia. Likewise, coverage in the Northern Hemisphere is better than the Southern Hemisphere.