Spatial Patterns of Record-Setting Temperatures

Monday, 15 December 2014
Alexander B Kostinski, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI, United States and Amalia L Anderson, Hendrix College, Conway, AR, United States
Although terrestrial surface temperatures are spatially correlated, record-breaking temperatures need not necessarily follow the same correlations. Given the recent popularity of record-breaking statistics, it is important to study such correlations. To that end we employ a simple diagnostic reminiscent of a pair-correlation function to examine Historical Climatology Network monthly temperature means. Analysis of the continental United States reveals that while during the hottest years record-breaking temperatures arrive in "heat waves" throughout almost the entire region, this is not so for all years, not even recently. We find that record-breaking temperatures generally exhibit spatial patterns and variability quite different from those of the mean temperatures.