Climate Data

Global (land) precipitation and temperature: Willmott & Matsuura, University of Delaware

A series of gridded temperature and precipitation data sets. Station records that served as bases for the Terrestrial Air Temperature: 1900-2014 Gridded Monthly Time Series (Version 4.01) and Terrestrial Precipitation: 1900-2014 Gridded Monthly Time Series (Version 4.01) archives are used here to help create new gridded climatologies of monthly and annual average air temperature (T) and total precipitation (P). These two sets of station time series were drawn primarily from recent versions of the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN version 2) and the Global Surface Summary of Day (GSOD) archive. Selected averages from Legates and Willmott’s (1990a and b) long-term station averages of monthly and annual T and P also were used to help produce this new gridded archive.

Key Strengths:

  • Provides a relatively detailed global land surface temperature climatology
  • Higher spatial resolution than comparable data sets

Key Limitations:

  • Infrequent updates
  • No ocean coverage

Years of Record

1900/01 to 2014/12
temporal metadataID:



Climatology | Monthly

Data Time Period Extended?

yes, data set is extended


Spatial Resolution

0.5x0.5 degree

Ocean or Land

Land Only

Missing Data Flag

missing data present

Vertical Levels

Input Data

land stations from GHCNv2 and a few other sources

Earth system components and main variables

  1. Legates, D.R. and Willmott, C.J., 1990a, Mean seasonal and spatial variability in global surface air temperature, Theoretical and Applied Climatology 41:ll-21.
  2. Legates, D.R. and Willmott, C.J., 1990b, Mean seasonal and spatial variability in gauge corrected, global precipitation, International Journal of Climatology 1O:lll-127.
  3. Willmott, C.J. and K. Matsuura (1995). Smart interpolation of annually averaged air temperature in the United States. Journal of Applied Meteorology, 34, 2577-2586.
  4. Willmott, C.J. and S.M. Robeson (1995). Climatologically aided interpolation (CAI) of terrestrial air temperature. International Journal of Climatology, 15(2), 221-229.

Key Figures

Click the thumbnails to view larger sizes



Change of temperature in the UDEL data set. Change of annual mean land temperature between 1901:1920 and 1991:2010 based on the UDEL v3.0.1 dataset. Credit: ClimateDataGuide, NCAR
Climatology of annul mean land temperature from the UDEL data set. Mean annual surface air temperature over land according to UDEL v3.0.1, averaged for 1951-1980. (credit: D Schneider, ClimateDataGuide)

Cite this page

National Center for Atmospheric Research Staff (Eds). Last modified 02 Aug 2017. "The Climate Data Guide: Global (land) precipitation and temperature: Willmott & Matsuura, University of Delaware." 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.