Studying Climate Change: A New Tool Mixes Weather Data and GIS

…an article written by Helen M. Cox, associate professor of Geography at California State University, Northridge, appearing at GeoReport

“A tool developed at California State University, Northridge, now converts NCDC historical climate data to a feature-class format. A menu-driven interface provides access to point temperature and precipitation data that can be interpolated easily through the tools provided in the Spatial Analyst toolbox to generate raster layers for any region in the United States averaged over any desired temporal period. Thirty-year baseline averages for the 1950-1980 period, for example, have been pre-calculated and stored in a geodatabase to permit easy calculation of anomalies relative to this period, providing the framework for climate-change studies.

“This GIS climate tool was written in Visual Basic using ArcObjects and reads data from the daily weather observations of more than 20,000 cooperative weather stations in the United States. Although the period of record can begin as early as 1850, most station histories begin in 1948 or soon thereafter. The data were obtained from NCDC.