North America Climate Extremes Monitoring

This tool was developed to improve understanding of changes in extreme climate conditions by giving users an ability to examine trends and occurrences of certain types of extreme or threshold events at a station-by-station level. It currently provides data and analysis for eight indices that have been defined by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). An interactive map allows users to select a month, season, or specific year (from 1955 to present) to view a snapshot of values for a specific index across North America. 

Climate Extremes Index

The Climate Extremes Index charts the occurrence of specific extreme events in the United States from 1910 to present. In most cases, extreme events are defined as being in the outermost (“most unusual”) ten percent of a place’s history. Extreme event indicators tracked include monthly maximum and minimum temperature, daily precipitation, drought severity index, and tropical storm wind velocity. Analyses are available at the national and regional levels.

U.S. Record-Setting Events

This NOAA National Climatic Data Center tool allows users to look up record-setting events for a given day, month, or all time.  Specifically, users can look for record highest minimum or maximum temperature, lowest min/max temperature, precipitation, or snowfall.  This information is available for individual U.S. states, U.S. regions, and U.S. territories. 

This interactive shows the extent of the killing of lodgepole pine trees in western Canada. The spread of pine beetle throughout British Columbia has devastated the lodgepole pine forests there. This animation shows the spread of the beetle and the increasing numbers of trees affected from 1999-2008 and predicts the spread up until 2015.

This short video features the Alaska Lake Ice and Snow Observatory Network (ALISON project), a citizen science program in which 4th and 5th graders help scientists study the relationship between climate change and lake ice and snow conditions.

These graphs show carbon dioxide measurements at the Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii. The graphs display recent measurements as well as historical long term measurements. The related website summarizes in graphs the recent monthly CO2, the full CO2 Record, the annual Mean CO2 Growth Rate, and gives links to detailed CO2 data for this location, which is one of the most important CO2 sites in the world.

This activity develops student understanding of the relationship of weather and climate. Students use interview techniques to explore perceptions about local climate change among long-time residents of their community. Students then compare the results of their interviews to long term local temperature and precipitation records.

In this intermediate Excel activity, students import US Historical Climate Network mean temperature data into Excel from a station of their choice. They are then guided through the activity on how to use Excel for statistical calculations, graphing, and linear trend estimates. The activity assumes some familiarity with Excel and graphing in Excel.

Students use the GLOBE Student Data Archive and visualizations to display current temperatures on a map of the world. They explore the patterns in the temperature map, looking especially for differences between different regions and hemispheres and zoom in for a closer look at a region that has a high density of student reporting stations (such as the US and Europe). Students compare and contrast the patterns in these maps, looking for seasonal patterns.

In this activity students work with real datasets to investigate a real situation regarding disappearing Arctic sea ice. The case study has students working side-by-side with a scientist from the National Snow and Ice Data Center and an Inuit community in Manitoba.