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I'm looking for large data sets on world-wide ecology parameters, such as annual temperatures by latitude, annual rainfall, CO₂ and O₂ concentration in the atmosphere and in the oceans, data about the insect population, plants, algae, and so on.

Is there any research institute or NGO collecting such data and making it available to the public?

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What time interval are you interested in? NASA collects a whole lot of information about abiotic parameters with their satellites on a global scale. They can be explored here: earthdata.nasa.gov and here oceancolor.gsfc.nasa.gov (for the oceans). –  Stockfisch Mar 18 '13 at 11:18
    
That's a great resource, I didn't even know NASA did that. –  Tobia Mar 18 '13 at 11:57

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For climate related data you can start from Realclimate pages on data repository. For ecological data I always found less global data, but a good starting point may be the Ecological Society of America Data Registry page. An overview of repositories can be found the the Simmons University Open Access Directory.

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For species occurance data the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (http://www.gbif.org/) database should be an obvious choice. It contains both historical records from museums etc and information from more recent surveys and inventories. Note that the occurrence data can both come from standardized inventories and observational records from specialists and amateurs (Citizen science data).

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