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Climate Data Primer

Are you new to climate data? Ready to learn or review some of the basics?

example temperature and precipitation report

Example of a climate data table showing daily maximum and minimum temperature, as well as precipitation, for a weather station near Old Faithful, Wyoming. 

This site will walk you through some of the basics to help you understand and explore climate data. In the table of contents on the left, you'll find information on:

  • instruments used to measure weather and climate
  • how weather observations relate to climate products
  • how climate scientists check the quality of observations
  • tools you can use for exploring climate data

Why does climate data matter? Lots of people check climate data to help them make decisions:

  • Folks who are planning outdoor events check climate normals data to help them choose a date when they can expect pleasant weather.
  • Ranchers, farmers, and outdoor-recreation businesses regularly monitor drought conditions to see if the environment has sufficient water for plants and animals.
  • Weather enthusiasts like to explore extreme storms and record-setting events.
  • People who live near the coast consider how sea level rise might affect them.
  • Students often consider the relationship between global temperature and greenhouse gases.
  • Water companies check precipitation and river levels to monitor water supplies.

To get started, click any page title on the left.

Published: November 21, 2014
Last updated: September 22, 2021

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