Articles | Volume 2, issue 2
Geosci. Instrum. Method. Data Syst., 2, 305–321, 2013
Geosci. Instrum. Method. Data Syst., 2, 305–321, 2013

Review article 18 Dec 2013

Review article | 18 Dec 2013

The surface temperatures of Earth: steps towards integrated understanding of variability and change

C. J. Merchant1,2, S. Matthiesen2, N. A. Rayner3, J. J. Remedios4, P. D. Jones5,6, F. Olesen7, B. Trewin8, P. W. Thorne9, R. Auchmann10, G. K. Corlett4, P. C. Guillevic11,12, and G. C. Hulley13 C. J. Merchant et al.
  • 1Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, UK
  • 2School of GeoSciences, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  • 3Hadley Centre, MetOffice, Exeter, UK
  • 4University of Leicester, Physics and Astronomy, Leicester, UK
  • 5Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
  • 6Center of Excellence for Climate Change Research/Department of Meteorology, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
  • 7Institute for Meteorology and Climate Research, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany
  • 8National Climate Centre, Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Melbourne, Australia
  • 9Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center, Bergen, Norway
  • 10Institute of Geography and Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Switzerland
  • 11Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites (CICS), North Carolina State University, Asheville, NC, USA
  • 12National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, NC, USA
  • 13Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA

Abstract. Surface temperature is a key aspect of weather and climate, but the term may refer to different quantities that play interconnected roles and are observed by different means. In a community-based activity in June 2012, the EarthTemp Network brought together 55 researchers from five continents to improve the interaction between scientific communities who focus on surface temperature in particular domains, to exploit the strengths of different observing systems and to better meet the needs of different communities. The workshop identified key needs for progress towards meeting scientific and societal requirements for surface temperature understanding and information, which are presented in this community paper. A "whole-Earth" perspective is required with more integrated, collaborative approaches to observing and understanding Earth's various surface temperatures. It is necessary to build understanding of the relationships between different surface temperatures, where presently inadequate, and undertake large-scale systematic intercomparisons. Datasets need to be easier to obtain and exploit for a wide constituency of users, with the differences and complementarities communicated in readily understood terms, and realistic and consistent uncertainty information provided. Steps were also recommended to curate and make available data that are presently inaccessible, develop new observing systems and build capacities to accelerate progress in the accuracy and usability of surface temperature datasets.