Back to Articles | « Previous | Next »
Home » Measuring climate change as NOAA updates definition of ‘climate normals’
Read the full article here

Measuring climate change as NOAA updates definition of ‘climate normals’

Measuring climate change as NOAA updates definition of ‘climate normals’

The headline on a climate report from Yale Climate Connections says a lot: “What’s ‘normal’ in a changing climate?”

The story looks at upcoming revisions to federal database that’s used to determine if temperatures are warmer than “normal” and to make other weather comparisons. TV meteorologists use this database to say if a day is to be hotter than average.

NOAA is adopting a new time frame for its 30-year database of “normal.” NOAA is dropping the decade of 1981-1990 and adding the decade 2011-2020. By May, the new database is to be in place.

The wrinkle is that the past decade has been warmer and wetter than the one it’s replacing, according to YCC’s report, Updated yardstick begs question: What’s ‘normal’ in a changing climate? The report observes:

“For the contiguous U.S., the period 1991-2020 was roughly 44°F warmer and 0.34″ wetter than in 1981-2010, based on national-scale data published by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). The final station-by-station data are scheduled to be released this spring.”

NOAA’s climate report from a station at Atlanta’s airport shows the changes in daytime and overnight temperatures that occurred in the recent past. Credit: ncdc.noaa.gov

YCC posted the story Feb. 3 by Bob Henson, a Colorado-based meteorologist who wrote The Thinking Person’s Guide to Climate Change and last year concluded a five-year run co-producing the Category 6 site for Weather Underground.
Sticker