Get Land Surface Temperatures

Acquire land surface temps from Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature study, NOAA, and NASA-Goddard.
Updated 25 Oct 2012

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What an exciting time it is to be a climate scientist. Given the laudable transparency of the recent Koch-Brothers-funded Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) study, I wanted to look at their results and compare them to temperature histories made available by NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Climate Data Center (NCDC). The result was the following three MATLAB functions, which acquire globally-averaged land surface temperatures from the three institutions:

[best_temp,best_dates,best_temp_unc] = best_tavg(start_date,end_date,moving_average)
[giss_temp,giss_dates] = giss_tavg(start_date,end_date,moving_average)
[noaa_temp,noaa_dates] = noaa_tavg(start_date,end_date,moving_average)

Output variables are vectors of temperature data, corresponding dates, and in the case of the BEST data, 95% uncertainty values. Input arguments are optional. start_date and end_date must be in Matlab's datenum format (e.g. use datenum('May 1, 2002')) and moving_average describes the effective smoothing of the data. If no moving_average is specified, monthly averages are returned.

Run the example script temp_record_examples.m for ideas of how to look at the data made Matlab-accessible by these functions.

Interesting note: Climatologist Michael Mann recently wrote the following about the BEST study: "There is a certain ironic satisfaction in seeing a study funded by the Koch Brothers – the greatest funders of climate change denial and disinformation on the planet – demonstrate what scientists have known with some degree of confidence for nearly two decades: that the globe is indeed warming, and that this warming can only be explained by human-caused increases in greenhouse gas concentrations. I applaud Muller and his colleagues for acting as any good scientists would, following where their analyses led them, without regard for the possible political repercussions."

Cite As

Chad Greene (2024). Get Land Surface Temperatures (, MATLAB Central File Exchange. Retrieved .

MATLAB Release Compatibility
Created with R2011a
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improved examples