Climate Change Datasets

What are the most important “general” datasets to have on climate change?

Note: we are not looking for very detailed datasets for specialists. More the “general” datasets - the kind you would want if you were building a “dashboard” for intelligent policymakers and citizens.

Here are some examples to get started - more suggestions wanted.


  • Country or sub-region commitments (e.g. emission amounts, cuts, temperature targets)
  • Which countries / regions have emission trading schemes in place and their status
  • #29 - CO2 “price” in ETS

State of the World

  • Temperature datasets - which ones?
  • #27 - CO2 per country (what about other GHG)
  • #56 - CO2 PPM (over time)



Transportation, Electricity/Power
Coal (Mining, Sales, Use, Emissions, Burning Plants, etc.)
Clean Energy Systems = % of electric supply not emmitting greenhouse gases
Emissions intensity = Emissions per Dollar (GDP)
Flourinated Gases/Greenhouse Gases - HFCs, PFCs, SF6 and NF3
Water Vapor, CO2, Methane, Nitrous Oxide, GHG, CFCs (which I think actually are Greenhouse gases listed above)
Sea Level Measurements
Ice Shelf Measurements

World Bank

Climate - NASA

Climate -
Climate -
U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit
Key Websites - Climate - NASA


@jalbertbowden this is a really great list - thank-you.

From the Oak Ridge National Lab’s “Mercury” system: “Distributed Metadata Management, Data Discovery and Access System”. Here’s a list of their projects.

Core Science Analytics and Synthesis (CSAS)
The Core Science Analytics and Synthesis (CSAS) Vision: Providing a
reliable, comprehensive view of USGS data that accelerates scientific
discovery and reveals new connections to increase our understanding of
Earth’s natural systems. CSAS Mission: With expertise in technology,
informatics, and science, CSAS leads the management and delivery of
scientific data and information for the USGS. CSAS implements and
promotes standards and best practices to enable efficient, data-driven
science for decision making at multiple scales. We build critical
relationships to identify the data, and to develop and deploy
appropriate technological solutions that support rapid response to
emerging natural resource issues.

DataONE - ONEMercury
ONEMercury is a web-based tool for searching a shared metadata
repository for data products held by DataONE member nodes. ONEMercury
will be released in March 2012. It is based on the Mercury toolset
developed under funding from NASA, DOE, and USGS, with some additional
support from NSF. ONEMercury also incorporates Complex Objects in Spans
(COinS) tags, to enable loading search results into bibliographic tools
such as Zotero and Mendeley.

The Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC) The Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC)
is the primary climate-change data and information analysis center of
the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). CDIAC is located at DOE’s Oak Ridge
National Laboratory (ORNL) and includes the World Data Center for
Atmospheric Trace Gases. CDIAC’s data holdings include records of the
concentrations of carbon dioxide and other radiatively active gases in
the atmosphere; the role of the terrestrial biosphere and the oceans in
the biogeochemical cycles of greenhouse gases; emissions of carbon
dioxide to the atmosphere; long-term climate trends; the effects of
elevated carbon dioxide on vegetation; and the vulnerability of coastal
areas to rising sea level. CDIAC provides data management support for
major projects, including the AmeriFlux Network, continuous observations
of ecosystem level exchanges of CO2, water, energy and momentum at
different time scales for sites in the Americas; the Ocean CO2 Data
Program of CO2 measurements taken aboard ocean research vessels;
DOE-supported FACE experiments, which evaluate plant and ecosystem
response to elevated CO2 concentrations, and NARSTO, which assesses
ozone and fine particle processes in the troposphere over North America.

The NARSTO partnership is a non-binding, tri-national public/private
alliance, open to science agencies, regulatory agencies, regulated
industries, academic institutions, environmentalists, and public
interests groups in Canada, Mexico and the United States. The NARSTO
mission is to plan, coordinate, and facilitate comprehensive, long-term,
policy-relevant scientific research and assessment of primary and
secondary pollutant species emitted, formed, transformed, and
transported in the troposphere over the North American continent. The
current emphasis is directed toward the study of ozone, particulate
matter, and their precursors. To accomplish this mission, NARSTO
provides a cross-organization planning process that determines the most
effective strategies for scientific investigation, and establishes and
maintains effective communication channels with the policy, control
technology, and health and ecological effects communities.

CDIAC’s Ocean CO2 Data Program
CDIAC provides data management support for the Joint Global Ocean Flux
Study (JGOFS) CO2 measurements taken aboard research vessels during
World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE) Hydrographic Program (WHP)
cruises. WOCE is a major component of the World Climate Research Program
with the overall goal of better understanding the oceans role in
climate and climatic changes resulting from both natural and
anthropogenic causes. The levels of CO2 in the oceans are unevenly
distributed because of complex circulation patterns and biogeochemical
cycles. Although CO2 was not an official WOCE measurement, a coordinated
effort, supported in the U.S. by DOE, was made on WOCE cruises through
1998 to measure the global-scale and temporal distributions of total
carbon dioxide (TCO2) and related parameters.

NGEE Arctic
The Next-Generation Ecosystem Experiments (NGEE Arctic) seeks to
increase confidence in climate projections by quantifying the physical,
chemical, and biological behavior of terrestrial ecosystems in Alaska.
Initial research will focus on the highly dynamic landscapes of the
North Slope (Barrow, Alaska) where thaw lakes, drained thaw lake basins,
and ice-rich polygonal ground offer distinct land units for
investigation and modeling. A focus on scaling based on investigations
within these geomorphological units will allow us to deliver a
process-rich ecosystem model, extending from bedrock to the top of the
vegetative canopy, in which the evolution of Arctic ecosystems in a
changing climate can be modeled at the scale of a high resolution Earth
System Model grid cell (i.e., 30x30 km grid size). This vision includes
mechanistic studies in the field and in the laboratory; modeling of
critical and interrelated water, nitrogen, carbon, and energy dynamics;
and characterization of important interactions from molecular to
landscape scales that drive feedbacks to the climate system. A suite of
fine-, intermediate-, and climate-scale models will be used to guide
observations and interpret data, while process studies will serve to
initialize state variables in models, provide new algorithms and process
parameterizations, and evaluate model performance.

Spruce and Peatland Responses Under Climatic and Environmental Change
Project (SPRUCE) is an experiment to assess the response of northern
peatland ecosystems to increases in temperature and exposures to
elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations.The SPRUCE experiment is the
primary component of the Terrestrial Ecosystem Science Scientific Focus
Area of ORNL’s Climate Change Program, focused on terrestrial ecosystems
and the mechanisms that underlie their responses to climatic change.
The experimental work is to be conducted in a Picea mariana [black
spruce] – Sphagnum spp. bog forest in northern Minnesota, 40 km north of
Grand Rapids, in the USDA Forest Service Marcell Experimental Forest
(MEF). The site is located at the southern margin of the boreal peatland
forest. It is an ecosystem considered especially vulnerable to climate
change, and anticipated to be near its tipping point with respect to
climate change. Responses to warming and interactions with increased
atmospheric CO2 concentration are anticipated to have important
feedbacks on the atmosphere and climate, because of the high carbon
stocks harbored by such ecosystems.

Soil moisture Sensing Controller And oPtimal Estimator (SoilSCAPE)
Soil moisture is a measurement need in four out of the six NASA
strategic focus area roadmaps (climate, carbon, weather, and water
roadmaps). It is used in all land surface models, all water and energy
balance models, general circulation models, weather prediction models,
and ecosystem process simulation models. Depending on the particular
application area, this quantity may need to be measured with a number of
different sampling characteristics. Traditional remote sensing
techniques using radars and radiometers fail to meet such requirements
due to their large footprints.This project introduces a new concept for a
smart wireless sensor web technology for optimal measurements of
surface-to-depth profiles of soil moisture using in-situ sensors. The
objective is to enable a guided and adaptive sampling strategy for the
in-situ sensor network to meet the measurement validation objectives of
spaceborne soil moisture sensors such as the Soil Moisture Active
Passive (SMAP) mission. Spatially, the total variability in
soil-moisture fields comes from variability in processes on various
scales. Temporally, variability is caused by external forcings,
landscape heterogeneity, and antecedent conditions. Installing a dense
in-situ network to sample the field continuously in time for all ranges
of variability is impractical. However, a sparser but smarter network
with an optimized placement plan and optimal measurement schedule can
provide the validation estimates by operating in a guided fashion with
guidance from its own sparse measurements. The feedback and control take
place in the context of a dynamic physics-based hydrologic and sensor
modeling system. The design of this smart sensor web consists of the
control architecture, sensor placement and scheduling algorithms,
physics-based hydrologic and sensor models, and actuation and
communication hardware.

Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility
The Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program was created in 1989
by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to develop several highly
instrumented ground stations to study cloud formation processes and
their influence on radiative transfer. As the program evolved to include
additional measurements of aerosol and precipitation, the original
ground sites were supplemented with three mobile facilities and an
aerial facility. This comprehensive scientific infrastructure and data
archive were designated by DOE as a scientific user facility—the ARM
Climate Research Facility—in 2003, and are freely available for use by
scientists worldwide.

U.S. Geological Survey Science Data Catalog (USGS SDC)
The USGS Science Data Catalog displays USGS open data assets in a
searchable public data listing, while offering a single point of entry
for USGS records to display in Department of the Interior and
indexes, among others.

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Forest coverage
Global forest watch ( @globalforests provide a great resource for forest open data but needs some more complete data. There are some great global datasets available that are more detailed than the usual “Trees Yes/No” categorisation. Some examples below

Some gaps in the data that need contributions. For instance UK data Global Forest Watch Open Data Portal

Haven’t seen this being noted, so I am adding in MesoWest:

I have been using this dataset for my Ms Thesis for Oahu Solar Forecasting and they even provide an API, python wrapper, and are reachable by e-mail. Great crew behind it.

Another one as part of NOAA is NCDC: Particularly interesting to get an idea of how data looks like. GFS (grid data) can also be obtained there.

  • Global temperature datasets
  • Hemispheric
  • Zonal
  • Average
  • Soil temperature
  • Satelite measurement temperature datasets
  • Ocean temperature datasets
  • Human population growth / Urban population growth
  • Volcano emissions

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For all interested: Open Climate Data ( ) is compiling lots of climate data into Data Packages: Open Climate Data · GitHub

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I’m working on consolidating all this information in one place here in the new DataHub awesome datasets section: Dataset Collections - DataHub - Frictionless Data

Please add new material there :smile: