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Product Highlight: North American Climate Extremes Monitoring

North American Climate Extremes Monitoring Interactive Map

North American Climate Extremes Monitoring Interactive Map

Extreme weather and climate events—such as drought, heavy rain, and heat waves—are a natural part of the Earth's climate system. Nonetheless, they can have significant impacts on our lives and on the environment. In a static climate, society and the environment are more likely to be resilient and acclimate to the historical range of climate extremes. As the climate changes, however, extremes may occur outside the historical range, resulting in societal and environmental vulnerabilities for all.

Scientists expect certain weather and climate extremes to become more frequent during the 21st century, and they have already observed changes in these extremes across North America in recent decades. To provide an accessible analysis tool that will help improve our understanding of those observed changes in climate extremes, NCDC developed the North American Climate Extremes Monitoring (NACEM) product. This tool allows users to examine trends and occurrences of certain types of extreme or threshold events at the station-by-station level.

The NACEM currently provides data and analysis for eight indices, which include the number of frost days, the number of summer days, the number of icing days, the number of tropical nights, much below average minimum temperatures, much below average maximum temperatures, much above average minimum temperatures, and much above average maximum temperatures. The NACEM computes each available index at the station level and provides corresponding anomalies, data permitting, with respect to the 1961–90 long-term average. 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. Another option enables time series graphics for a station of interest by simply selecting the station.

By using tools like the NACEM, decision makers, constituents, and the public can improve their understanding of observed changes in extreme climate conditions at their specific location, and in turn, improve their ability to respond and adapt to these changes.