Sampling biases in datasets of historical mean air temperature over land

  • Authors: WANG Kaicun
  • Published in: 2014
  • Published on: Scientific Reports 4, 4637(1-6)


Global mean surface air temperature (Ta) has been reported to have risen by 0.74¡ãC over the last 100 years. However, the definition of mean Ta is still a subject of debate. The most defensible definition might be the integral of the continuous temperature measurements over a day (Td0). However, for technological and historical reasons, mean Ta over land have been taken to be the average of the daily maximum and minimum temperature measurements (Td1). All existing principal global temperature analyses over land rely heavily on Td1. Here, I make a first quantitative assessment of the bias in the use of Td1 to estimate trends of mean Ta using hourly Ta observations at 5600 globally distributed weather stations from the 1970s to 2013. I find that the use of Td1 has a negligible impact on the global mean warming rate. However, the trend of Td1 has a substantial bias at regional and local scales, with a root mean square error of over 25% at 5¡ã ¡Á 5¡ã grids. Therefore, caution should be taken when using mean Ta datasets based on Td1 to examine high resolution details of warming trends.

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