CRU TS Gridded precipitation and other meteorological variables since 1901

The CRU TS series of data sets (CRU TS = Climatic Research Unit Timeseries) contain monthly timeseries of precipitation, daily maximum and minimum temperatures, cloud cover, and other variables covering Earth's land areas for 1901-2015 (CRU TS4.0 is a recent release). The data set is gridded to 0.5x0.5 degree resolution, based on analysis of over 4000 individual weather station records. Many of the input records have been homogenized, but the data set itself is not strictly homogeneous. Long-term trends of air temperature over large areas are very similar to data sets such as CRUTEM4. The precipitation data have been used to assess global precipitation variability and to derive gridded drought indices such as the sc-PDSI and the SPI. The large number of variables enables many additional studies of climate variability and extremes. Nonetheless, when possible, studies of trends should consider whether the trends are physically consistent with other variables from independent data sets.

Key Strengths:

  • Compiles station data of multiple variables from numerous data sources into a consistent format
  • Uses the station data to compute variables such as potential evapotranspiration, diurnal temperature range, and number of frost and rain days

Key Limitations:

  • Although many of the input data were homogenized, the data set is not strictly homogenous. Use trends with caution.
  • Substantially fewer stations used than GPCC

Years of Record

1901/01 to 2015/12
temporal metadataID:



Climatology | Monthly

Data Time Period Extended?

yes, data set is extended


Spatial Resolution


Ocean or Land

Land Only

Missing Data Flag

missing data present

Vertical Levels

Input Data

~4000 station records primarily from CLIMAT, Monthly Climatic Data from the World, and World Weather Records

Suggested Data Citation

from BADC: 

University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit (CRU). [Phil Jones, Ian Harris]. CRU TS3.21: Climatic Research Unit (CRU) Time-Series (TS) Version 3.21 of High Resolution Gridded Data of Month-by-month Variation in Climate (Jan. 1901 - Dec. 2012), [Internet]. NCAS British Atmospheric Data Centre, 2013, Date of citation. Available from http: // ; doi: 10.5285/D0E1585D-3417-485F-87AE-4FCECF10A992

Data Access: Please Cite data sources, following the data providers' instructions.

Usage Restrictions

registration required; academic use

Key Figures

Click the thumbnails to view larger sizes



Cite this page

National Center for Atmospheric Research Staff (Eds). Last modified 02 Aug 2017. "The Climate Data Guide: CRU TS Gridded precipitation and other meteorological variables since 1901 ." Retrieved from

Acknowledgement of any material taken from this page is appreciated. On behalf of experts who have contributed data, advice, and/or figures, please cite their work as well.