Climate Data Primer

Are you new to climate data? Ready to learn or review some of the basics?


Graphic: thermometer over Earth
Image Credit:

This site will walk you through some of the basics to help you understand and explore climate data. In the table of contents on the left, you'll find information on:

  • instruments used to measure weather and climate
  • how weather observations relate to climate products
  • how climate scientists check the quality of observations
  • tools you can use for exploring climate data

Why does climate data matter? Lots of people check climate data to find information or help them make decisions. For example:

  • Folks who are planning outdoor events check climate normals data to help them choose a date when they can expect pleasant weather.
  • Ranchers, farmers, and outdoor-recreation businesses regularly monitor drought conditions to see if the environment has sufficient water for plants and animals.
  • Weather enthusiasts like to explore extreme storms and record-setting events.
  • People who live near the coast consider how sea level rise might affect them.
  • Students often consider the relationship between global temperature and greenhouse gases.
  • Water companies check precipitation and river levels to monitor water supplies.

To get started, click any page title on the left.