A shift in winter season timing in the Northern Plains of a USA as indicated by temporal analysis of heating degree days

Suzanne Hartley, David A. Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

The temporal distribution of monthly heating degree days (HDD) approximates a bell-shaped curve, usually with a January maximum. The first moment, or centroid, of this distribution can be taken as the midpoint of the heating season. Analysis of seasonal HDD centroids reveals significant inter-decadal trends in the Northern Plains. From 1950 to 1990, the timing of HDD centroid is observed to have advanced at a rate of 1.6 days per decade, a trend largely explained by cooling in October and warming in March and April. A trend of comparable magnitude (2.2 days per decade), but opposite direction, is observed for the period 1925-1950, and is again primarily associated with temperature trends in autumn and spring. The results suggest that changes in seasonal timing could be a feature of natural climate variability, and that it may be premature to infer an unprecedented climate change from a subtle shift in the timing of the winter season. Copyright (C) 2000 Royal Meteorological Society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-379
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Climatology
Volume20
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 30 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science

Keywords

  • Heating degree days
  • Inter-decadal variability
  • North Atlantic Oscillation
  • Pacific-North American
  • Temporal statistics
  • USA Northern Plains
  • Winter season timing

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