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Information on Climate Data Designations and Global Warming*

 
Julian Silk
Adjunct Professor
University of Maryland
Rockville, MD
silk30918@earthlink.net

 

Data for Cooling Degree Days (CDDs), Heating Degree Days (HDDs), Precipitation and other weather-related variables are collected for the U.S. by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), an agency of the U.S. Government.  NOAA is the parent organization of the National Climate Data Center (NCDC), which collects the information.  This document updates the information in “Global Warming: Data and Some Thoughts on the Role of Economics”, published in the USAEE Dialogue, November 2008, (see https://www.usaee.org/pdf/Nov08.pdf, 20-24) as the location of the data has changed.

The changes to the state values have been updated in http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/cirs/climdiv/state-readme.txt.  Note that in the new version, there are state data for Alaska as well, which is designated 50.  (Hawaii is designated as 51.  49 is not designated, and there appear to be no data currently under the 49 listing.)  There are also several regions, of various designations (such as 203 for the Great Basin) and additional data for each.  (The Great Basin is defined to include areas in Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and Idaho.  See http://gacc.nifc.gov/gbcc/.)  For the cooling degree data, for example, the designations go by states, then the national composite, then basins, then Regions.

As before, there are data for all months and years from 1895 to the present, for which the data are available.  The composite annual national data are no longer at the bottom of each file.  For example, the data signifier for national cooling degree days for 1895 for the contiguous 48 states is 1100261895.  Similarly, Florida data for 1958 is in 0080261958. 

The explanation for the transition to the new data is provided in

http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/cirs/div-dataset-transition-readme.txt

The data sets in the “Global Warming” were drd964x.cddst.txt, drd964x.hddst.txt, and drd964x.pcpst.txt  In the new data set these go to

drd964x.cddst.txt  => climdiv-cddcst-v1.0.0-YYYYMMDD

drd964x.hddst.txt  => climdiv-hddcst-v1.0.0-YYYYMMDD

drd964x.pcpst.txt  => climdiv-pcpnst-vx.y.z-YYYYMMDD

One would go to  http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/cirs/climdiv/ and choose the appropriate data set. For example, on 7 October 2015 with the cooling degree day data in http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/cirs/climdiv/climdiv-cddcst-v1.0.0-20151007 there are first the state data, then the Northeast Region (101) to the West Region (109), then the contiguous national data (110). 

The following is the state listing from http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/cirs/climdiv/state-readme.txt

Range of values for the states, regions, and nation is 001-110.

 

001

Alabama

030

New York

002

Arizona

031

North Carolina

003

Arkansas

032

North Dakota

004

California

033

Ohio

005

Colorado

034

Oklahoma

006

Connecticut

035

Oregon

007

Delaware

036

Pennsylvania

008

Florida

037

Rhode Island

009

Georgia

038

South Carolina

010

Idaho

039

South Dakota

011

Illinois

040

Tennessee

012

Indiana

041

Texas

013

Iowa

042

Utah

014

Kansas

043

Vermont

015

Kentucky

044

Virginia

016

Louisiana

045

Washington

017

Maine

046

West Virginia

018

Maryland

047

Wisconsin

019

Massachusetts

048

Wyoming

020

Michigan

050

Alaska

021

Minnesota

101

North East Region

022

Mississippi

102

East North Central Region

023

Missouri

103

Central Region

024

Montana

104

Southeast Region

025

Nebraska

105

West North Central Region

026

Nevada

106

South Region

027

New Hampshire

107

Southwest Region

028

New Jersey

108

Northwest Region

029

New Mexico

109

West Region

 

 

110

National - contig. 48 states

                           

The intervening code values for the Great Plains (111), the Southern Plains (115), the US Rockies and Westward (120), and the NWS Regions (121-124) are skipped, to go to (some of) the Basins.  These are designations (201-210) for the Pacific Northwest Basin to the Missouri River Basin.  Beneath these data, the data for the NWS Regions are displayed. 

Heating degree day data in, for example, http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/cirs/climdiv/climdiv-hddcst-v1.0.0-20151007 follow the pattern of the cooling degree day data as well. The precipitation data in http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/cirs/climdiv/climdiv-pcpnst-v1.0.0-20151007 however, differ somewhat.  Data for designations 1-48, 50, and 101-115 are the same. But there are data for 113-114 in between the data for 111 and 115.  The data for 113 are for New England and those for 114 are for New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland.  These were not intended to be public data, and will probably be removed in the future.  There are no data for 112. After 115, there is the same jump to 120, and data for 120-124 are in the same order.  There is then the same jump to 201, and the data for 201-210 are in the same order.  The data then do not return to 121, but instead proceed 211-220, then jump to 250, then to 255, then to 256, then to 260-262.  Then there is a jump to 265, then 350, then to 356, then to 361-362, and finally to 365, which is at the bottom of the set.  From the state.readme.txt file above, these designations (after 110 and 115, not including 112-114) can be listed as follows:

 

120

US Rockies and Westward

121

NWS Eastern Region

122

NWS Southern Region

123

NWS Central Region

124

NWS Western Region

201

Pacific Northwest Basin

202

California River Basin

203

Great Basin

204

Lower Colorado River Basin

205

Upper Colorado River Basin

206

Rio Grande River Basin

207

Texas Gulf Coast River Basin

208

Arkansas-White-Red Basin

209

Lower Mississippi River Basin

210

Missouri River Basin

211

Souris-Red-Rainy Basin

212

Upper Mississippi River Basin

213

Great Lakes Basin

214

Tennessee River Basin

215

Ohio River Basin

216

South Atlantic-Gulf Basin

217

Mid-Atlantic Basin

218

New England Basin

220

Mississippi River Basin & Tributaries No. of Memphis, TN

250

Spring Wheat Belt (area weighted)

255

Primary Hard Red Winter Wheat Belt (area weighted)

256

Winter Wheat Belt (area weighted)

260

Primary Corn and Soybean Belt (area weighted)

261

Corn Belt (area weighted)

262

Soybean Belt (area weighted)

265

Cotton Belt (area weighted)

350

Spring Wheat Belt (productivity weighted)

356

Winter Wheat Belt (productivity weighted)

361

Corn Belt (productivity weighted)

362

Soybean Belt (productivity weighted)

365

Cotton Belt (productivity weighted)

 

Someone who clicks on the http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/cirs/climdiv/ listing will also notice several data sets referring to divisions.  For example, for the Cooling Degree Days, as of this writing, there is http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/cirs/climdiv/climdiv-cddcdv-v1.0.0-20151104 This does not refer to the large regions like the Missouri River Basin that might be expected.  They are in fact sub-regions of the individual states.  The site http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/monitoring-references/maps/us-climate-divisions.php shows the sub-regions.  One clicks on a region of the map of the contiguous 48 states and gets the site http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/monitoring-references/maps/images/us-climate-divisions-names.jpg It has the regions in extremely small type, and one clicks again once one has the list of names to get something readable.  For example, 33, Ohio, has 01 is its Northwest sub-region.  This sub-region does appear to just include Toledo and Bowling Green.  Napoleon, a small town that is a bit north of the center of the region (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napoleon,_Ohio) would seem to be more representative of the weather observed.

The cooling degree days for this region include the listing for 2003 monthly listings for this sub-region:

3301262003     0.     0.     0.     0.    31.    99.   220.   246.    44.     0.     0.     0.

The “26” in the 5th and 6th digits is an identifier.  Looking at the Ohio data, (as well as the rest), one sees immediately that all the data listings have this same “26”. It might be added that the skeptics of global warming have by no means been reduced to zero.  So the particular data used are important.  One case in point of the skepticism is by Anthony Watts, in his “Study: Many US weather stations show cooling, maximum temperatures flat”, at http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/03/25/study-many-us-weather-stations-show-cooling-maximum-temperatures-flat/ He cites a study by Jaechoul Lee, Shanghong Li and Robert Lund, “Trends in Extreme United States Temperatures”, J. Climate, Volume 27, Issue 11 (June 2014), 4209–4225  at http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JCLI-D-13-00283.1

Lee et. al. argue that monthly maximum temperatures do not show uniform warming over the U.S., but that there are considerable regional variations in what the maximums, with the Southern U.S. showing the least warming (and some cooling), while New England, the West and the Upper Midwest have the most warming. 

The report “Indicators of Climate Change in California – Report Summary” at http://oehha.ca.gov/multimedia/epic/pdf/ClimateChangeIndicatorsSummaryAugust2013.pdf is one of many that show that minimum temperatures had increased the fastest from 1975 to 2012, with maximum temperatures in the middle, and average temperatures the least.

While the NCDC has produced a shorthand for population-weighted CDDs and HDDs, which is discussed at http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/societal-impacts/redti/overview it may thus be the case that minimum temperatures, which are also tracked by the NCDC in this data suite, are more relevant for global warming, energy demand and water use.  David Stoms, GuidoFranco, Heather Raitt, Susan Wilhelm and Sekita Grant, of the California Energy Commission, in their “Climate Change and the California Energy Sector “, (December 2013), at  http://www.energy.ca.gov/2013publications/CEC-100-2013-002/CEC-100-2013-002.pdf are among the many who suggest this, focusing on nighttime minimum temperatures in California, op. cit., p. 18 of 43. 


* My thanks go to William Brown, Chris Fenimore and especially Karen Gleason of the National Climate Data Center for helpful explanations.  All errors, and there are sure to be some, are my own.

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