[EarthTemp Scenery]

A Community Position Paper arising from the first EarthTemp Network Meeting (June 2012, Edinburgh, UK)

Executive Summary

Surface temperature is a key aspect of weather and climate, relevant to human health, agriculture and leisure, ecosystem services, infrastructure development and economic activity. The term “surface temperature” encompasses several distinct temperatures that differently characterise even a single place and time on Earth’s surface, as well as encompassing different domains of Earth’s surface (surface air, sea, land, lakes and ice).

Different surface temperatures play inter-connected yet distinct roles in the Earth’s surface system, and are observed with different complementary techniques. To better meet the needs of various applications and users communities, creative exploitation of the strengths of different observing system components is needed. Co-operation between scientific communities who focus on particular domains of Earth’s surface and on different components of the observing system is essential to accelerate scientific understanding and multiply the benefits of this understanding for society. A “whole-Earth” perspective on surface temperature is required.

[EarthTemp Recommendations]

With this in mind, the EarthTemp Network held its inaugural meeting in June 2012 (Edinburgh, UK). The 55 participants convened from 5 continents with expertise on all of Earth’s surfaces and a full range of relevant techniques. The workshop identified the following needs for progress towards meeting societal needs for surface temperature understanding and information:

  • 1. Develop more integrated, collaborative approaches to observing and understanding Earth’s various surface temperatures
  • 2. Build understanding of the relationships of different surface temperatures, where presently inadequate
  • 3. Demonstrate novel underpinning applications of various surface temperature datasets in meteorology and climate
  • 4. Make surface temperature datasets easier to obtain and exploit, for a wide constituency of users
  • 5. Consistently provide realistic uncertainty information with surface temperature datasets
  • 6. Undertake large-scale systematic intercomparisons of surface temperature data and their uncertainties
  • 7. Communicate differences and complementarities of different types of surface temperature datasets in readily understood terms
  • 8. Rescue, curate and make available valuable surface temperature data that are presently inaccessible
  • 9. Maintain and/or develop observing systems for surface temperature data
  • 10. Build capacities to accelerate progress in the accuracy and usability of surface temperature datasets

The needs are broadly expressed above. 28 specific ambitious steps, relevant to these objectives, are recommended in the remainder of this community position paper.

Available versions:

About the writing of this position paper

The meeting included networking activities to build relationships across the new community, overviews of the state of the art in the field, and a series of 20 intensive small-group discussions on current gaps in our knowledge and scientific priorities on 5 to 10 year timescales across a number of themes. This position paper captures, as concretely as possible, the community conclusions of these discussion groups. The chairs of each discussion group, aided by notetakers, presented the outcomes of each group in plenary at the end of the workshop, with further opportunity to discuss and refine the points captured.

The PI of the network took these presentations as the starting point to draft this discussion paper. The next draft captured the comments and amendments of the project’s co-Is and international steering group and the chairs and notetakers of the discussion sessions. Finally, the draft was sent to all participants for their comment and final approval. This process was intended to ensure that the final version is truly a consensus white paper from the EarthTemp Network membership. The version submitted for peer-review was then developed from the draft.

Authorship and endorsement

Lead author: Christopher J. Merchant

Co-authors: Nick A. Rayner, Prof. John J. Remedios, Stephan Matthiesen, Prof. Phil Jones, Folke Olesen, Blair Trewin, Peter Thorne, Renate Auchmann, Gary K. Corlett, Pierre Guillevic, Glynn Hulley.

Endorsed by: Lisa Alexander, David Berry, Manola Brunet, Claire Bulgin, Katarzyna Dąbrowska-Zielińska, Emma Dodd, Claude Duguay, Owen Embury, Eirik Førland, Darren Ghent, Frank Göttsche, Lizzie Good, Yatian Guo, Dorothy Hall, Jacob L. Høyer, Maria A. Jiménez, Juan Carlos Jimenez-Muñoz, Alexey Kaplan, John Kennedy, Elizabeth Kent, Albert Klein, Jean-Pierre Lagouarde, Aisling Layden, Michele Lazzarini, David Llewellyn-Jones, Giuseppina Lopardo, Stuart MacCallum, Cristian Mattar, Mark McCarthy, Matt Menne, Colin Morice, Simon Pinnock, Fred Prata, Viatcheslav Razuvaev, Ignatius Rigor, Hervé Roquet, Matilde Rusticucci, Prashant Sardeshmukh, Philipp Schneider, Kay B. Smith, Jose Sobrino, Karen Veal, Yunyue Yu