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About Climate Data

about climate data

The climate conditions data used in the Tracking Network were obtained through the Iowa State University Climate Science Program and includes data from the Iowa Environmental Mesonet.

This page provides general information about climate data and measures developed by the Iowa Public Health Tracking program. Contact Us for more information about these data.

Information on this page:

What do these data tell us?

  • The Average Temperature, Maximum High Temperature, and Minimum Low Temperature by county for the selected month and year, and how these measures vary over time.
  • The Total Precipitation recorded in a county for the selected month and year, and how this measure vary over time.
  • The number of High Heat days that occur in a county for the selected month and year, and how this measure vary over time.

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How can we use these data?

  • The data provides summary information on temperature and precipitation data that can provide information on climate conditions and trends over time.
  • These data can be used to determine the potential for public health impacts from temperature or precipitation extremes, and extreme weather events over time.
  • State and local partners can use the data for program planning and evaluation.
  • Conduct ecologic comparisons of climate conditions data with various health outcomes data to help identify trends and possible correlation that would inspire further research to investigate links between exposure and outcome.

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What can these data not tell us?

  • The causes of extreme weather events.
  • If an individual health problem is caused by temperature or precipitation extremes, and extreme weather events.
  • A complete picture of the climate in Iowa and how or why it may change over time.
  • These data are not gathered specifically to assess how climate conditions impact health however, they can be used to determine the potential for public health impacts from temperature or precipitation extremes, and extreme weather events over time.

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What are the sources of the data?

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What time period of data is available?

  • The Iowa Public Health Tracking portal displays temperature and precipitation data from the year 2000 through the most recent year of data available.

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How are High-Heat days defined from the data?

  • When the daily high temperature recorded was at or above 95 degrees Fahrenheit, that day is counted as a High-Heat Day. So a value of ‘5’ would represent that there were five days in a given month with the daily high temperature at or above 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • When the daily overnight low temperature recorded was at or above 70 degrees Fahrenheit, that day is counted as a High-Heat Day. So a value of ‘5’ would represent that there were five days in a given month with the daily overnight low temperature recorded was at or above 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

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What are the limitations of the data?

  • These data are compiled from multiple sources and networks of weather monitoring stations in Iowa and are a subset of the data collected by the Iowa Environmental Mesonet. Specific information and details about cooperating member networks can be found on the Iowa Environmental Mesonet website.
  • These data are aggregated to the county level based on the location of contributing weather monitoring stations. Some counties may not have an observation station available for this dataset, in which case an interpolation is done between neighboring counties with data. The single county value does not capture sub-county scale variability that does happen.

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Where can I find more technical information about the data?

More detailed documentation of the climate data can be found in the following documents:

Indicator Profiles

Climate and Health pdf

Descriptive Metadata

Climate Conditions pdf

Contact Us to learn more about climate data, or any of the measures displayed on the Iowa Public Health Tracking Portal.

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