Global maps of soil temperature

Jonas J. Lembrechts, Johan van den Hoogen, Juha Aalto, Michael B. Ashcroft, Pieter De Frenne, Julia Kemppinen, Martin Kopecký, Miska Luoto, Ilya M.D. Maclean, Thomas W. Crowther, Joseph J. Bailey, Stef Haesen, David H. Klinges, Pekka Niittynen, Brett R. Scheffers, Koenraad Van Meerbeek, Peter Aartsma, Otar Abdalaze, Mehdi Abedi, Rien AertsNegar Ahmadian, Antje Ahrends, Juha M. Alatalo, Jake M. Alexander, Camille Nina Allonsius, Jan Altman, Christof Ammann, Christian Andres, Christopher Andrews, Jonas Ardö, Nicola Arriga, Alberto Arzac, Valeria Aschero, Rafael L. Assis, Jakob Johann Assmann, Maaike Y. Bader, Khadijeh Bahalkeh, Peter Barančok, Isabel C. Barrio, Nina Buchmann, Lars Eklundh, Marcin Antoni Jackowicz-Korczynski, Julia Kelly, Natascha Kljun, Keith Larson, Mats B. Nilsson, Øystein H. Opedal, David P. Siqueira, Christian Stiegler, Torbern Tagesson, Jonathan Lenoir, et al.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research in global change ecology relies heavily on global climatic grids derived from estimates of air temperature in open areas at around 2 m above the ground. These climatic grids do not reflect conditions below vegetation canopies and near the ground surface, where critical ecosystem functions occur and most terrestrial species reside. Here, we provide global maps of soil temperature and bioclimatic variables at a 1-km2 resolution for 0–5 and 5–15 cm soil depth. These maps were created by calculating the difference (i.e. offset) between in situ soil temperature measurements, based on time series from over 1200 1-km2 pixels (summarized from 8519 unique temperature sensors) across all the world's major terrestrial biomes, and coarse-grained air temperature estimates from ERA5-Land (an atmospheric reanalysis by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts). We show that mean annual soil temperature differs markedly from the corresponding gridded air temperature, by up to 10°C (mean = 3.0 ± 2.1°C), with substantial variation across biomes and seasons. Over the year, soils in cold and/or dry biomes are substantially warmer (+3.6 ± 2.3°C) than gridded air temperature, whereas soils in warm and humid environments are on average slightly cooler (−0.7 ± 2.3°C). The observed substantial and biome-specific offsets emphasize that the projected impacts of climate and climate change on near-surface biodiversity and ecosystem functioning are inaccurately assessed when air rather than soil temperature is used, especially in cold environments. The global soil-related bioclimatic variables provided here are an important step forward for any application in ecology and related disciplines. Nevertheless, we highlight the need to fill remaining geographic gaps by collecting more in situ measurements of microclimate conditions to further enhance the spatiotemporal resolution of global soil temperature products for ecological applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3110-3144
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Issue number9
Early online date2021 Dec 29
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Fieldwork in the Arctic got facilitated by funding from the EU INTERACT program. SN, UAT, JJA and JvO would like to thank the field team of the Vegetation Dynamics group for their efforts and hard work. We acknowledge Dominique Tristan for letting access to the field. For the logistic support the crew of INACH and Gabriel de Castilla Station team on Deception Island. We thank the Inuvialuit and Kluane First Nations for the opportunity to work on their land. MAdP acknowledges fieldwork assistance and logistics support to Unidad de Tecnología Marina CSIC, and the crew of Juan Carlos I and Gabriel de Castilla Spanish Antarctic Stations, as well as to the different colleagues from UAH that helped on the instrument maintenance. ERF acknowledges fieldwork assistance by Martin Heggli. MBG acknowledges fieldwork and technical assistance by P Abadía, C Benedé, P Bravo, J Gómez, M Grasa, R Jimenez, H Miranda, B Ponz, J Revilla and P Tejero and the Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park staff. LH acknowledges field assistance by John Jacobs, Andrew Trant, Robert Way, Darroch Whitaker; we acknowledge the Inuit of Nunatsiavut, and the Co‐management Board of Torngat Mountains National Park for their support of this project and acknowledge that the field research was conducted on their traditional lands. We thank our many bear guides, especially Boonie, Eli, Herman, John and Maria Merkuratsuk. AAK acknowledges field support of Akhtar Malik, Rameez Ahmad. Part of microclimatic records from Saxony was funded by the Saxon Switzerland National Park Administration. Tyson Research Center. JP acknowledges field support of Emmanuel Malet (Edytem) and Rangers of Reserves Naturelles de Haute‐Savoie (ASTERS). Practical help: Roel H. Janssen, N. Huig, E. Bakker, Schools in the tepåseförsöket, Forskar fredag, Erik Herberg. The support by the Bavarian Forest National Park administration is highly appreciated. LvdB acknowledges CONAF and onsite support from the park rangers from PN Pan de Azucar, PN La Campana, PN Nahuelbuta and from communidad agricola Quebrada de Talca. JL and FS acknowledge Manuel Nicolas and all forest officers from the Office National des Forêts (ONF) who are in charge of the RENECOFOR network and who provided help and local support for the installation and maintenance of temperature loggers in the field.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Global Change Biology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Physical Geography
  • Climate Research

Free keywords

  • bioclimatic variables
  • global maps
  • microclimate
  • near-surface temperatures
  • soil temperature
  • soil-dwelling organisms
  • temperature offset
  • weather stations


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