Global surface temperature data: GISTEMP: NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) Surface Temperature Analysis

NASA Goddard's Global Surface Temperature Analysis (GISTEMP) combines land surface air temperatures primarily from the GHCN-M version 3 with SSTs of the ERSSTv3b analysis into a comprehensive global surface temperature data set spanning 1880 to the present at monthly resolution, on a 2x2 degree latitude-longitude grid. As such, it is one of the main data sets used to monitor global and regional temperature variability and trends. GISTEMP has greater polar coverage than MLOST or HadCRUT4, in part due to the inclusion of Antarctic 'READER' stations and in part due to the interpolation method. Like NOAA's MLOST, interpolation of the station records is performed to provide broad spatial coverage, however, the methodology is unique. The GISTEMP analysis method uses linear inverse distance weighting to infill gridboxes with records from stations up to 1200km away (a version with a 250km limit is also provided). 

Key Strengths:

  • Nearly global coverage, especially in 1200km smoothed version

Key Limitations:

  • Provides anomalies only

Years of Record

1880/01 to 2016/11
temporal metadataID:




Data Time Period Extended?

yes, data set is extended


Spatial Resolution

2x2 degree

Ocean or Land


Missing Data Flag

missing data present

Vertical Levels

Input Data

GHCN v3 (~6300 land stations); ERSSTv3b (SSTs); SCAR READER (for Antarctic stations)

Earth system components and main variables

Key Figures

Click the thumbnails to view larger sizes



GISTEMP trend; ClimataDataGuide figure. Change of annual mean land temperature between 1901:1920 and 1991:2010 based on the GISTEMP dataset (with ERSSTv3b SSTs). Figure Credit: ClimateDataGuide, NCAR

Cite this page

National Center for Atmospheric Research Staff (Eds). Last modified 03 Feb 2017. "The Climate Data Guide: Global surface temperature data: GISTEMP: NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) Surface Temperature Analysis." Retrieved from

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