Investigating Climate Change Using Observed Temperature Data

Carla McAuliffe, Center for Science Teaching and Learning, TERC,
Rita Freuder, TERC Education Consultant,
Neal Lott, NOAA, National Climatic Data Center,

Glen Reid, NOAA,

Matthew Menne, NOAA,

Suchi Gopal, Department of Geography, Boston University,

Published: January 2011. Last Updated: November 2012.


The National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) collects and archives weather data from measuring stations, such as the one pictured, right. These land- and ocean-based stations are located all over the world. In this chapter, you will download two historic datasets from NCDC: Global Summary of the Day (GSOD) daily temperature data and Historic Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN) monthly temperature data. After importing the data into Microsoft Excel, you will graph and compare daily to monthly temperatures for Barrow, Alaska. Next, you will repeat this process for Key West, Florida and then compare these patterns to other temperature trends in the United States and globally.

This chapter is part of the Earth Exploration Toolbook. Each chapter provides teachers and/or students with direct practice for using scientific tools to analyze Earth science data. Students should begin on the Case Study page.

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