Daily-mean temperature reconstructed for Kansas from early instrumental and modern observations


A continuous record of 65 987 daily-mean temperature observations since 1828 has been developed for Manhattan, Kansas, by screening and correcting original station records of the U.S. Army Surgeon General, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Signal Service. Hourly, minimum, and maximum temperature observations from seven discontinuous historical stations and four modern stations in Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma were used to compile this unbroken record of daily-mean temperature. The historical temperature data were linked with the modern temperature record for Manhattan after these data were adjusted for time of observation differences, station movements, and changes in the environment around the station. The new daily-mean temperature reconstruction for Manhattan now extends with confidence back to 1 July 1855 and with more uncertainty back to 1 July 1828. The uncertainty prior to 1855 is due to instrumentation changes in 1843 and changes in observation practices in 1855 that occurred at many stations. The error estimates reported in this paper do not reflect these potential inhomogeneities and should be considered lower limits. Nonetheless, this new daily record indicates significant warming in all seasons; in heating and cooling degree-days; in the warmest and coldest days of the year; in extremes above the 90th percentile and below the 10th percentile; in the frequency of winter cold waves and summer heat waves; and in the overall annual-mean temperature, which has warmed by 1.57° ± 0.23°C since 1855 (1.27° ± 0.23°C since 1829). The warm Dust Bowl event in the summer of the 1930s and cold winters of the 1870s and 1880s dominate the reconstruction and included some of the warmest and coldest daily extremes, respectively, of the last 154-180 yr. This new reconstruction is currently the longest unbroken daily corrected record in the Americas. These data indicate that the nineteenth century was fundamentally cooler than the twentieth and early twenty-first century. © 2010 American Meteorological Society.

Publication Title

Journal of Climate