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July 19, 2016: The Graphs page has been redesigned to use interactive features like moving/scaling the image or zooming on a specific time interval. When referencing the GISTEMP data provided here, please cite both this webpage and also our most recent scholarly publication about the data.
A related Plotter page may be used to graphically display individual columns of the table data, overlaid by an adjustable smoothing to examine the medium- and long-term trends. + GISTEMP Team, 2016: , 48, RG4004, doi:10.1029/2010RG000345.
See the article index for a list of NASA news and features related to the GISTEMP analysis. The basic GISS temperature analysis scheme was defined in the late 1970s by James Hansen when a method of estimating global temperature change was needed for comparison with one-dimensional global climate models.
The analysis method was fully documented in Hansen and Lebedeff (1987), including quantitative estimates of the error in annual and 5-year mean temperature change.
This was done by sampling at station locations a spatially complete data set of a long run of a global climate model, which was shown to have realistic spatial and temporal variability.
This however only addresses the error due to incomplete spatial coverage of measurements.
As there are other potential sources of error, such as urban warming near meteorological stations, many other methods have been used to verify the approximate magnitude of inferred global warming.