Friday, January 10, 2014

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

As mentioned back in the summer a paper led by Chris Merchant of Reading University on all aspects of surface temperatures arising from a workshop of the Earthtemp initiative had been submitted to the Open Access EGU journal Geoscientific Instrumentation, Methods and Data Systems. This was accepted and formally published just before Christmas.

The abstract is:
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.
If you are interested in broader aspects of the surface temperatures problems and issues than just land surface air temperatures or how ISTI may fit into the whole I would encourage you to read the paper (caveat emptor: I am a co-author). The paper is available at doi:10.5194/gi-2-305-2013. It contains a mix of scientific, practical and development activities which taken as a whole would significantly improve our ability to understand all aspects of global surface temperatures.

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