Temperature Measures from March 31-April 3, 2015. Source: NASA JPL

Unlike precipitation, temperature is more easily interpolated across larger geographic areas. Even where topography varies, an increase in temperature in one location typically signals an increase in neighboring locations, even if the temperature in one area tends to be cooler than the other. For this reason, it is easier to interpolate temperature across a region.

Depending on the topic of study, different temperature indices may be more useful than others. Those concerned with whether temperatures surpass a particular threshold may consider the number of days in a season surpassing a given temperature, or the the temperature on the coldest or warmest day of the year. Those concerned more with seasonal averages may consider the mean daily high and low temperatures over a three-month period. 

Some temperature indices of interest may include:

  • Highest high temperature in a year
  • Lowest low temperature in a year
  • Average daily high temperature in a month
  • Average daily low temperature in a month
  • Number of days in a season when temperature exceeds 30 °C
  • Number of days in a season when temperature is below 0 °C
  • Average length of heat waves
  • The temperature at which a day is in 95th percentile
  • The temperature at which a day is in the 99th percentile


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