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Background: Long-Term Daily and Monthly Climate Records from Stations Across the Contiguous United States

The United States Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) is a high-quality data set of daily and monthly records of basic meteorological variables from 1218 observing stations across the 48 contiguous United States. Daily data include observations of maximum and minimum temperature, precipitation amount, snowfall amount, and snow depth; monthly data consist of monthly-averaged maximum, minimum, and mean temperature and total monthly precipitation. Most of these stations are U.S. Cooperative Observing Network stations located generally in rural locations, while some are National Weather Service First-Order stations that are often located in more urbanized environments. The USHCN has been developed over the years at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) to assist in the detection of regional climate change. Furthermore, it has been widely used in analyzing U.S. climte. The period of record varies for each station. USHCN stations were chosen using a number of criteria including length of record, percent of missing data, number of station moves and other station changes that may affect data homogeneity, and resulting network spatial coverage.

Collaboration between NCDC and CDIAC on the USHCN project dates to the 1980s (Quinlan et al. 1987). At that time, in response to the need for an accurate, unbiased, modern historical climate record for the United States, the Global Change Research Program of the U.S. Department of Energy and NCDC chose a network of 1219 stations in the contiguous United States that would become a key baseline data set for monitoring U.S. climate. This initial USHCN data set contained monthly data and was made available free of charge from CDIAC. Since then it has been comprehensively updated several times [e.g., Karl et al. (1990) and Easterling et al. (1996)]. The initial USHCN daily data set was made available through CDIAC via Hughes et al. (1992) and contained a 138-station subset of the USHCN. This product was updated by Easterling et al. (1999) and expanded to include 1062 stations. In 2009 the daily USHCN dataset was expanded to include all 1218 stations in the USHCN.

Note: A related product using a subset of the USHCN-Daily data is now available - DayRec: An Interface for Exploring United States Record-Maximum/Minimum Daily Temperatures

References

  • Easterling, D. R., T. R. Karl, E.H. Mason, P. Y. Hughes, and D. P. Bowman. 1996. United States Historical Climatology Network (U.S. HCN) Monthly Temperature and Precipitation Data. ORNL/CDIAC-87, NDP-019/R3. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
  • Easterling, D. R., T. R. Karl, J. H. Lawrimore, and S. A. Del Greco. 1999. United States Historical Climatology Network Daily Temperature, Precipitation, and Snow Data for 1871-1997. ORNL/CDIAC-118, NDP-070. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
  • Hughes, P. Y., E. H. Mason, T. R. Karl, and W. A. Brower. 1992. United States Historical Climatology Network Daily Temperature and Precipitation Data. ORNL/CDIAC-50, NDP-042. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
  • Karl, T. R., C. N. Williams, Jr., and F. T. Quinlan. 1990. United States Historical Climatology Network (HCN) Serial Temperature and Precipitation Data. ORNL/CDIAC-30, NDP-019/R1. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
  • Quinlan, F. T., T. R. Karl, and C. N. Williams, Jr. 1987. United States Historical Climatology Network (HCN) Serial Temperature and Precipitation Data. NDP-019. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, Tennessee.