NOAA Product Highlight: U.S. Climate Extremes Index

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on January 21, 2014

“The U.S. Climate Extremes Index or USCEI brings together several climate indicators to illustrate the occurrence of specific extreme events in the contiguous United States from 1910 to the present. These climate indicators include extremes in average monthly maximum and minimum temperatures, heavy one-day precipitation events, drought severity, the number of days with and without precipitation, and the wind intensity of tropical cyclones that make landfall in the country. The USCEI helps paint the picture of how often and how much of the country is dealing with extreme weather throughout time. It does this by tracking the highest and lowest 10% of extremes in these climate indicators. One way to visualize how this works is by thinking of a football field. With temperatures for example, it would be as if the scientists took all of the average monthly maximum, or minimum, temperatures for a specific location and lined them up on a football field from the coolest at one goal line to the warmest at the other goal line. The USCEI incorporates those values that are within the 10-yard line on each end of the field. Scientists can then look at those values and see when most of the high and low extremes occurred, giving them an idea of how they are evolving over time.”

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