U.S. daily temperatures: The meaning of extremes in the context of nonnormality

Peter Huybers, K. A. Mckinnon, A. Rhines, M. Tingley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Variations in extreme daily temperatures are explored in relation to changes in seasonal mean temperature using 1218 high-quality U.S. temperature stations spanning 1900-2012. Extreme temperatures are amplified (or damped) by as much as ±50% relative to changes in average temperature, depending on region, season, and whether daily minimum or maximum temperature is analyzed. The majority of this regional structure in amplification is shown to follow from regional variations in temperature distributions. More specifically, there exists a close relationship between departures from normality and the degree to which extreme changes are amplified relative to the mean. To distinguish between intraseasonal and interannual contributions to nonnormality and amplification, an additional procedure, referred to as z bootstrapping, is introduced that controls for changes in the mean and variance between years. Application of z bootstrapping indicates that amplification of winter extreme variations is generally consistent with nonnormal intraseasonal variability. Summer variability, in contrast, shows interannual variations in the spread of the temperature distribution related to changes in the mean, especially in the Midwest. Changes in midwestern temperature variability are qualitatively consistent with those expected from decreases in evapotranspiration and are strongly correlated with a measure of drought intensity. The identified patterns of interannual variations in means and extremes may serve as an analog for modes of variability that can be expected at longer time scales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7368-7384
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number19
StatePublished - 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


Dive into the research topics of 'U.S. daily temperatures: The meaning of extremes in the context of nonnormality'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this