Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Rainfall and Temperature datasets

For a quick overview of rainfall and temperature datasets, see Section 2.2 of Dell, Jones, and Olken (2013) "What Do We Learn from the Weather? The New Climate-Economy Literature"(forthcoming in Journal of Economic Literature).

For reanalysis data (as opposed to weather observed at the gauge stations), see Auffhammer et al. (2013).


Hijmans et al. (2005) compile the climate data for the whole land surface on earth (excluding Antarctica) at a spatial resolution of 30 arc seconds (about 1km). Max and min temperature and monthly rainfall are available. This is NOT the time-series weather data, but useful for learning the general climate at the very disaggregated level of areas.

Downloadable at this website.

Used by Dell, Jones, and Olken (2009) and Gennaioli et al (2013).

Global Historical Climatology Network

The dataset includes monthly records by rainfall stations and the location of such stations. Used by Maccini and Yang (2006) for monthly precipitation data in Indonesia.


CRU TS 2.1

Monthly climate dataset by 0.5 degree grid for 1901-2002.

Variables available include precipitation, daily mean temperature, monthly average daily maximum temperature, monthly average daily minimum temperature, diurnal temperature range, vapour pressure, cloud cover, wet day frequency, frost day frequency.

To obtain other weather variables such as dew points from the CRU data, see its FAQ no. 5.

See Mitchell and Jones (2005) for detail.

The CRU data is the best estimate of spatial distribution of weather at each point in time. To use the CRU data for time-series analysis, however do read this. Especially, bear in mind that if no station data is available, the average value for the month from 1960-1990 is imposed. Also, changes in weather over time may reflect not only actual weather changes but also changes in the availability of station data.

The original file is downloadable at Mitchell's website (but you need to use Unix to browse the data file).

The aggregate data at the country level is also available as "TYN CY 1.1".

The CGIAR Consortium for Spatial Information (CGIAR-CSI) provides the GIS version of CRU TS 2.1 data. Even if you do not intend to use the GIS software, this dataset is useful because weather data files (in the comma delimited ascii format) are split into 6 20-year periods so that you can read these files in Excel, which does not allow you to read more than 256 columns.
These data files consist of columns entitled "value" (0.5 by 0.5 degree grid identifier) and "My" (weather value for of ). The mapping between "value" and geographic coordinates is available in "coordinates.txt". See CRU_21-readme.doc for details.

Monthly temperature data at a 5-degree grid spatial resolution from 1850 to present. Downloadable here. Used by Bluedorn et al. (2009).

Global Six Century Temperature Patterns

This dataset provides annual temperature at a 5 degree spatial resolution from 1730-1980. ASCII files are downloadable here. For the documentation, see Mann et al. (1998). Used by Bluedorn et al. (2009).


Terrestrial Air Temperature and Precipitation: Monthly and Annual Time Series (1950-1999)

Constructed by Center for Climatic Research, University of Delaware.

Only the average values during 1950-1999 are available.

Used by Seema Jayachandran (2006) "Air Quality and Early-Life Mortality: Evidence from Indonesia's Wildfires".

For possible concerns to use this dataset for Africa, see footnote 7 of Brückner and Ciccone (2009).


Climate Prediction Center Merged Analysis of Precipitation (CMAP)

Daily average rainfall data at 2.5 by 2.5 degree grid level, available monthly since 1979.

Used by Thomson et al. (2005) to estimate the impact of rainfall on malaria incidence in Botswana.


Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP)

Rainfall data similar to CMAP.

Used by Miguel et al. (2004) to instrument per capita income growth in relation to civil war incidence.

Rainfall data at the daily frequency at 1.0 by 1.0 degree grid level is also available since October 1996.

Cramer and Leemans's CLIMATE data

"Monthly averages of mean temperature, temperature range, precipitation, rain days and sunshine hours for the terrestrial surface of the globe, gridded at 0.5 degree longitude/latitude resolution" are available for the period 1930-1960.

FAO Climwat

"The CLIMWAT database includes data from a total of 3262 meteorological stations from 144 countries."


Monthly data for 28,100 stations on evapotranspiration, precipitation, sunshine, temperature, vapour pressure, and wind speed.

1 comment:

ktl said...

A good source for leads on data is the SDI-Africa newsletter (and other regional newsletters), published by the GSDI Association.

Spatial Data Infrastructure — Africa (SDI-Africa) is a free, electronic newsletter for people interested in GIS, remote sensing, and data management issues in Africa. It has been published monthly since May 2002 and has wide circulation across Africa. Each issue highlights recent activities, provides details about available data and tools, and includes notices about upcoming training, employment and funding opportunities, and events. The aim is to strengthen national SDI initiatives and support synchronization of regional geospatial activities. Past and current SDI-Africa newsletters are accessible at the Global Spatial Data Infrastructure Association website at Regional newsletters for Latin America/Caribbean and Asia/Pacific regions also are available. Please pass on this information to others who may be interested, and if you would like, sign up for the GSDI Association News List at

The June 2007 issue includes (among many other items):
- AFREF Project: first GNSS reference station in Kenya established
- A new WebGIS platform for returnee monitoring in West Darfur
- East Africa establishes climate monitoring centre
- Geographic information and GIS capacities to support HIV/AIDS monitoring in Zambia
- Land Policy in Africa: a framework of action to strengthen land rights, enhance productivity and secure livelihoods
- SADC Regional Remote Sensing Unit website
- MDG Mapper: visualizing MDG progress in Africa
- UN Spatial Data Infrastructure for Transport geo-database schema
- GISFish - Global Gateway to GIS, Remote Sensing and Mapping for Aquaculture and Inland Fisheries
- 2007 crop assessment tour summary in Zimbabwe and South Africa
- Modelling the spatial distribution of five natural hazards in the context of the WHO/EMRO Atlas of Disaster Risk
- Land Information Management Systems Training Course, 1-12 October 2007, Nairobi, Kenya (Deadline: 12 September 2007)
- Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System Fellowship programme in sea level science and applications 2007-2008 (Deadline: June 30, 2007)
- Open Society Institute (OSI) Tools for Open Society initiative (Deadline: June 30, 2007)
- 2007-2008 ProVention Consortium Research and Action Grants for Disaster Risk Reduction (Deadline: July 15, 2007)
- Nile-Transboundary Development Facility (NTDF) Competitive Announcement (Deadline: June 15, 2007)
- Postgraduate Training Fellowships for Women Scientists in Sub-Saharan Africa or Least Developed Countries (LDC) at Centres of Excellence in the South (Deadline: July 31, 2007)
- Call for papers: 10th International Conference for Spatial Data Infrastructure (GSDI-10), St. Augustine, Trinidad, February 25-29, 2008,
- Society for Conservation GIS-Kenya Conference – Geospatial Technology for Biodiversity Conservation and Management, Nairobi, Kenya, July 18-20, 2007
- Changements Climatiques et Adaptation en Afrique - Le Rôle des Technologies Spatiales, Alger (Algérie), les 25, 26 et 27 juin 2007
- Forests of the Congo Basin: State of the Forest 2006

SDI-Latin America/Caribbean, (Spanish) (English)