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NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS) tracks atmospheric global temperature climate trends. As environmental engineer, D Kelly O’Day, explained on (link no longer available): To facilitate assessments of long term trends, climatologists compare the mean for a base period with the annual mean. Differences between the annual mean and baseline mean are called anomalies. GISS uses the 1951 - 1980 period for their baseline period. They use the difference between the annual mean and the baseline mean to determine the global temperature anomaly for the year.
"An Introduction to Statistical Learning (ISL)" by James, Witten, Hastie and Tibshirani is the "how to'' manual for statistical learning. Inspired by "The Elements of Statistical Learning'' (Hastie, Tibshirani and Friedman), this book provides clear and intuitive guidance on how to implement cutting edge statistical and machine learning methods. ISL makes modern methods accessible to a wide audience without requiring a background in Statistics or Computer Science. The authors give precise, practical explanations of what methods are available, and when to use them, including explicit R code. Anyone who wants to intelligently analyze complex data should own this book. Larry Wasserman , Professor, Department of Statistics and Department of Machine Learning, CMU.