Climate and Atmospheric Science - Extending the Climate Record, Illinois State Water Survey

Climate and Atmospheric Science

Extending the Climate Record

Various Staff
Extending the Climate Record
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CDMP 19th Century Forts and Voluntary Observers Database Build Project
Nancy Westcott

The Climate Database Modernization Program (CDMP) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is working to preserve and place on line a wide range of climate observations from the last three centuries. The Midwestern Regional Climate Center (MRCC) is collaborating with the National Climatic Data Center to extend the digital climate record. The CDMP 19th Century Forts and Voluntary Observers Database Build Project is digitizing U.S. daily weather observations from U.S. Army forts and volunteer observer networks. Records at forts started in the early 1800s, and records at networks, managed by the Smithsonian Institution and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, began in the mid- to late 1800s. These station networks eventually evolved into the Weather Bureau's Cooperative Observer Network, which continues to collect data today for the National Weather Service. Creation of a digital database of 19th Century data will allow extension of analyses of daily climate variables back an additional century. Thirty-nine distinct types of daily weather observations are being digitized, including various observations of temperature, pressure, precipitation, wind, clouds, weather conditions, river gauge height, and surface water temperature. The MRCC is applying a series of quality control tests and procedures to digitized data to ensure they accurately represent observations recorded on the original documents (see example).

Extreme Weather Events during the 19th Century
Nancy Westcott, Jim Angel, and Leslie Stoecker

Beyond the basic development of 19th Century daily data within the CDMP project, Water Survey scientists also have grants from the NOAA Climate Program Office to analyze climate extreme events during the 19th Century, specifically those extremes discernible only with daily data. This work includes identification of variations in frequency of extreme heat waves, cold waves, and heavy precipitation events in the conterminous United States to provide a longer basis for understanding recent variations. A second project will quantify and catalog spatial and temporal climate extremes in the latter half of the 19th Century. This study will include climate extreme types and variables not addressed in the previous project, such as drought indices, growing season anomalies, and snow. Heat waves, cold waves, and heavy precipitation events also will be examined further as more data become available from the CDMP Database Build project. | Climate and Atmospheric Science |

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