Climate monitoring: Taking the long view. Redmond, Kelly T.
Water Resources Impact:
The global climate change issue has highlighted the importance of careful attention to long-term monitoring. The suspected “signal” at any one place and time of year is expected to be dwarfed for some time by the inherent “noise” arising from the multiplicity of other behaviors of the climate system. Individual and aggregate (spatial and/or temporal average) values are scrutinized daily, monthly, yearly, and decadally for trends in means and variability. This search would not even be possible were it not for a rich history of measurements, meticulously recorded and laboriously compiled for several decades for some networks, and for well over a century for others. This particular application for those measurements, helping to resolve whether global and regional temperature and precipitation patterns are changing because of human influences, was nearly inconceivable when the earliest measurement programs were begun. In America, the purpose of the most-used climate data set, the cooperative network, was originally “to establish and record climate conditions in the United States”.