Climatic Research Unit : Data : High-Resolution Datasets


Publication of version 4 of the CRU TS monthly
high-resolution gridded climate dataset

A new paper describing version 4 of the CRU TS multivariate climate data set is published in Nature’s Scientific Data [doi:].
CRU TS is one of the most widely used observed climate datasets and is produced by the UK’s National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU).
CRU TS provides monthly data on a 0.5° x 0.5° grid covering land surfaces (except Antarctica) from 1901 to 2018 (the next release, which is imminent, will extend this to 2019). There are ten variables, all based on near-surface measurements: temperature (mean, minimum, maximum and diurnal range), precipitation (total, also rain day counts), humidity (as vapour pressure), frost day counts, cloud cover, and potential evapotranspiration.
CRU TS has been produced and shared openly to facilitate research and analysis in all areas related to climate and climate change since the first version was released in 2000. Version 4 is the first major update since version 3 was published in 2013.
Version 4 features an improved interpolation process, which delivers full traceability back to station measurements. The station measurements of temperature and precipitation are provided as well as the gridded dataset and national averages for each country. Cross-validation was performed at a station level, and the results can be examined in the paper as a guide to the accuracy of the interpolation.
The overall process is always being refined and improved, an approach made possible by NCAS funding as part of the NCAS Long-Term Global Change theme.
CRU TS is used in many different contexts, from analysis of climate variability/change and evaluation of climate models, through to the many sectors that are impacted by climate such as hydrology, insurance and civil engineering. Although it is not possible to measure the full extent of its use due to inconsistent (and occasionally absent) citations, Google Scholar citations of the scientific papers describing the first three versions provide a guide (>2300 for version 1, >4200 for version 2, and >3900 for version 3).
CRU TSv4 data are already available and being used to support research and analysis. The publication of Harris et al. (2020; Sci. Data), however, represents the formal Data Descriptor of this new version.



Harris I, Osborn TJ, Jones P and Lister D (2020) Version 4 of the CRU TS Monthly High-Resolution Gridded Multivariate Climate Dataset. Scientific Data (


CRU TSv4 (current version 4.03 running to the end of 2018) is provided via the Centre for Environmental Data Analysis (CEDA), and also at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) website, in NetCDF and ASCII text formats. An interactive Google Earth for the mean temperature and precipitation gridded and station data, as well as country-level averages (called CRU CY v4.03), are available from the CRU website.

CEDA for NetCDF and text format CRU TS4.03 grids:


Last updated: April 2020, Ian Harris

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