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Improvements in the Uncertainty Model in the Goddard Institute for Space Studies Surface Temperature (GISTEMP) AnalysisWe outline a new and improved uncertainty analysis for the Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS) Surface Temperature product version 4 (GISTEMP v4). Historical spatial variations in surface temperature anomalies are derived from historical weather station data and ocean data from ships, buoys and other sensors. Uncertainties arise from measurement uncertainty, changes in spatial coverage of the station record, and systematic biases due to technology shifts and land cover changes. Previously published uncertainty estimates for GISTEMP included only the effect of incomplete station coverage. Here, we update this term using currently available spatial distributions of source data, state‐of‐the‐art reanalyses and incorporate independently derived estimates for ocean data processing, station homogenization and other structural biases. The resulting 95% uncertainties are near 0.05° C in the global annual mean for the last 50 years, and increase going back further in time reaching 0.15° C in 1880. In addition, we quantify the benefits and inherent uncertainty due to the GISTEMP interpolation and averaging method. We use the total uncertainties to estimate the probability for each record year in the GISTEMP to actually be the true record year (to that date), and conclude with 86% likelihood that 2016 was indeed the hottest year of the instrumental period (so far).
Document ID
Document Type
Accepted Manuscript (Version with final changes)
Nathan J L Lenssen ORCID
(Columbia University New York, New York, United States)
Gavin A Schmidt
(Goddard Institute for Space Studies New York, New York, United States)
James E Hansen ORCID
(Columbia University New York, New York, United States)
Matthew J Menne ORCID
(National Centers for Environmental Information Asheville, North Carolina, United States)
Avraham Persin
(SciSpace LLC)
Reto A Ruedy
(SciSpace LLC)
Daniel Zyss
(Goddard Institute for Space Studies New York, New York, United States)
Date Acquired
June 9, 2019
Publication Date
May 23, 2019
Publication Information
Publication: Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Volume: 124
Issue: 12
ISSN: 2169-897X
Subject Category
Meteorology And Climatology
Report/Patent Number
Funding Number(s)
PROJECT: SCMD-EarthScienceSystem_509496
Distribution Limits
Use by or on behalf of the US Gov. Permitted.
Technical Review
Professional Review

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