Is the data symmetrical from the Equator?  In the ascii format using a 0.5 degree resolution, the yllcorner equals -58 degrees. Since there are 286 rows, this represents a total of 143 degrees. Is the upper left corner then at 85 degrees latitude (-58 + 143)?

Yes, that is exactly correct.  We don’t extend the grids to the poles because of the lack of population.

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