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Laure M. Montandon
Souleymane Fall
Roger A. Pielke Sr.
, and
Dev Niyogi


The Global Historical Climate Network version 2 (GHCNv.2) surface temperature dataset is widely used for reconstructions such as the global average surface temperature (GAST) anomaly. Because land use and land cover (LULC) affect temperatures, it is important to examine the spatial distribution and the LULC representation of GHCNv.2 stations. Here, nightlight imagery, two LULC datasets, and a population and cropland historical reconstruction are used to estimate the present and historical worldwide occurrence of LULC types and the number of GHCNv.2 stations within each. Results show that the GHCNv.2 station locations are biased toward urban and cropland (>50% stations versus 18.4% of the world’s land) and past century reclaimed cropland areas (35% stations versus 3.4% land). However, widely occurring LULC such as open shrubland, bare, snow/ice, and evergreen broadleaf forests are underrepresented (14% stations versus 48.1% land), as well as nonurban areas that have remained uncultivated in the past century (14.2% stations versus 43.2% land). Results from the temperature trends over the different landscapes confirm that the temperature trends are different for different LULC and that the GHCNv.2 stations network might be missing on long-term larger positive trends. This opens the possibility that the temperature increases of Earth’s land surface in the last century would be higher than what the GHCNv.2-based GAST analyses report.

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