Information on Climate Data Designations and Global Warming*
Julian SilkAdjunct ProfessorUniversity of MarylandRockville, MDsilk30918@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
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.
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:
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.