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Spatial datasets operations: an overview of global climate dataset and interpolation

Climate dataset is literally the most important data in climate change research. Great efforts have been made to prepare climate dataset over the decades.

In my recent project, I need to prepare some climate dataset at global scale. Then I have to take some time to finish a review of current state of climate dataset at global scale.

First, I want to emphasize "global scale" including both arctic and antarctic. Because I will use this data in a three-dimensional ecosystem simulation, a special configuration of the data structure will be used, which is completely different from traditional approaches.

Second, where or how can we get the climate data?

The easiest source we can turn to is existing global climate dataset, such as CRU dataset, NCEP dataset. I try not to get into details of these data but rather list the source and state some critical aspects that we have to take into consideration.


  • Easy to use
  • Global coverage

  • Missing polar regions
  • Coarse resolution

Based on meteorology site observations, many spatial interpolation methods can also be used to produce spatial dataset.

  • Easy to implement

  • Data not well distributed
  • Algorithm uncertainty

There are also advanced tools can be used to prepare climate data.


  • Could potential on global scale

  • Computational demand
  • Hard to implement 

Recently, Artificial Neural Network has also been used for spatial interpolation. But current tests show that ANN may not be as good as traditional approaches.

  • Easy to use

  • Uncertainty

I want to highlight that our use of latitude/longitude in spatial resolution will cause issues in polar regions. This is because of the underlying mathematics definition of latitude/longitude. There are a few solutions to this issue but that is currently out of the scope in this post. I will provide some hint here that may be used to address this issue.

So what could potentially be the best choice?
As for now, I see the potential in ANN since it is nonlinear and could potentially performance well compared with traditional approaches. 


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