Digital global climate maps available for downloading


Average rainfall for January

A series of 53 global climate maps have been made available for free downloading on SD Dimensions the web pages of FAO's Sustainable Development Department. WinDisp (for Windows), the software that enables one to work with the maps, is also available for downloading.

The series, prepared by FAO's Environment and Natural Resources Service (SDRN) - based on a gridded IIASA dataset - includes maps indicating rainfall, temperature and sunshine. Average monthly values were calculated from data collected over long periods, in most cases from 1961 to 1990. Maps showing Biomass Potential - that is, the maximum amount of vegetation that an area can produce - are also available. These have been produced using methods developed by H. Lieth, and published in 1971. Although Lieth's method is one of the earliest and simplest for calculating biomass potential, it is interesting because it clearly shows which factor - water or temperature - is the main constraint to plant growth.

The climate maps are useful for research and planning purposes, and can be incorporated with other geo-referenced data.

The maps are in Image Display and Analysis (IDA) format, a DOS-based public domain software developed by FAO and USAID's (United States Agency for International Development) Famine Early Warning System (FEWS) for displaying, processing and analysing satellite images. The above-mentioned WinDisp is the Windows version of IDA.

16 December 1997

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