ES 331/767 Exercise V

James S. Aber

Temperature record

Long-term, relatively complete temperature data are available for many cities in Kansas. The oldest comes from Leavenworth, beginning in the 1820s, but this record has several gaps in data coverage. Since the 1870s, most cities have relatively continuous weather records; modern records are normally obtained at the city airport. Older data through 1946 were compiled by Flora (1948); data since 1946 are published in the Climatological data annual summary for Kansas of the National Climatic Data Center. The data include monthly average temperatures and mean annual temperatures for cities and airports in all parts of the state.

National Climatic Data Center--NCDC.

These temperature data reveal that significant short-term and long-term changes in climate have taken place in Kansas for the period of record.


The exercise is based on the temperature record for Manhattan, Kansas--see temperature data. Each student will calculate and graph simple statistical values from the temperature data.

Compare your results to the Plant Hardiness Zone Map--see Fig. V-1. Also see the revised map at the National Arbor Day Foundation (2006) and historical maps from the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University (Del Tredici 1990). Compare these with the 2012 version from the USDA, and note differences. Answer the following questions.

  1. What is the climatic basis of the plant hardiness zone map?

  2. What is the current plant hardiness zone for Manhattan, Kansas? What was Manhattan's plant hardiness zone for the previous (1990) map?

  3. What general changes in plant hardiness zones took place since the 1920s for the central United States?


Based on your analysis of the temperature record, prepare a written summary in which you discuss the short- and long-term history of temperature for Manhattan, Kansas. You should attempt to answer the following questions.

You should ultimately determine if there is any evidence for climatic warming during the early, middle or late 20th century. Does the temperature record correspond to your previous personal knowledge of past climate in Kansas or the Great Plains?

Historical climate of Kansas by Dorian J. Burnette.

Turn in


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ES 331/767 © by J.S. Aber (2013).