Category Archives: Climate

How do you measure how hot the summer is?

One reasonable way to gauge how hot a summer season was is to consider how many days that year reached 90F or above. It turns out that this number is extremely variable here in Madison.

From 1971 to 2016, the average number of days at or above 90F in Madison is 10.9. As is often the case with statistics, however, the average does not convey a sense of the variability. A better way to express that variability is by calculating the standard deviation, which, when added to or subtracted from the average, sets a range in which approximately 2/3 of the years will fall. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology, Seasons

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Why withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord?

President Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord last Thursday is a disheartening blow to the longstanding idea that sound science should play a role in the formation of public policy in our country.

This notion, in fact, was central to the creation of the National Academy of Sciences by the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Lincoln and the Congress charged the Academy with providing independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Uncategorized

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Is the weather in Madison more extreme than other locations in the U.S.?

Sitting nearly in the middle of the vast North American continent, Madison has what is known as a continental climate. Continental climates are characterized by large annual extremes in temperature and humidity as well as very distinct seasons.

The continental nature of Madison’s climate is what makes a year’s worth of weather in Madison usually a lot more varied than a year’s worth in, say, Seattle. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Seasons

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Is the California drought over?

Drought in the United States has been assessed by a number of different measures over the last several decades. One of the older such measures is the Palmer Drought Index introduced in 1965. The Palmer Index is based on a … Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology

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What are the plant hardy zones and how do they relate to climate?

If you are involved with gardening, you probably are aware of the hardy zones listed on seed packets.

Southern Wisconsin is largely in zones 5a and 4b, while northern Wisconsin lies in zones 3a to 4a. Continue reading

Category: Climate, Meteorology, Seasons

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