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Global Precipitation Added to Climate Data Record

Image of person under umbrella on rainy street
Courtesy of

A new Climate Data Record (CDR) of global precipitation has transitioned into operations. The Global Precipitation Climatology Project–Monthly Precipitation CDR, also known as GPCP–Monthly, merges precipitation information from several satellites and surface-observing sources, taking advantage of the strengths of each data type.

The GPCP–Monthly analysis is frequently used to analyze global and regional climatologies and precipitation variations. The dataset has been cited more than 1,500 times in scientific journals and is part of the World Climate Research Programme’s Global Energy and Water Exchanges research program. GPCP–Monthly is also part of a suite of precipitation data records describing the water and energy cycles of the planet.

This CDR—a type of high-quality Reference Environmental Data Record—consists of advanced algorithms for merging information from several satellites and rain gauge information, spanning 1979 to the present.

GPCP–Monthly Data

Information to develop the CDR comes from several satellites: the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) series, the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) series, and the Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite (POES) series.

The data, grouped in the atmospheric CDRs, contribute to:

  • Documenting precipitation climatology
  • Studying seasonal precipitation cycles
  • Characterizing the evolution of global precipitation
  • Validating climate model simulations
  • Identifying climate extremes
  • Validating other observations

You can download GPCP–Monthly data from NCEI. The current available version of the CDR is GPCP–Monthly v2.3. The Daily and Pentad products remain under development.

CDR Program

NOAA’s CDR Program transitions use-inspired research products into sustained NOAA products that adhere to industry best practices in management and stewardship. NOAA develops these products by applying modern analytical tools to historical weather records, thereby improving their usefulness and increasing the Nation's return-on-investment. CDRs must be of sufficient length, consistency, and continuity for researchers and observers to gain a valid measure of climate variability and change over time.

As with all operational CDRs that NCEI makes available, the GPCP–Monthly had to meet rigorous quality standards recommended by the National Academy of Sciences and other expert organizations. Chiefly, the CDR produces consistent, reliable, and scientifically defensible data.

A broad range of groups have a stake in CDR data: energy, water resources, agriculture, human health, national security, coastal community, and other public and private interest groups. NOAA develops CDRs with the goal that their applicability can improve resiliency to climate events, improve national security, and provide insight to economic outlooks due to climate changes.