Hot spots — areas where the climate is changing at a significantly faster rate than the planet as a whole — have appeared in the United States. These hot spots jeopardize farming and water supplies in Colorado, drive up wildfire dangers in California, threaten forests in Minnesota and erase pastimes, like ice fishing in New Jersey, that are dependent on a climate that no longer exists. The Post found that more than 1 in 10 Americans — 34 million people — are living in counties that have warmed by more than 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, since the late 1800s.
Climate change exceeding 2 degrees Celsius, a critical threshold international leaders agreed we must avoid as a global average, already impacts about 10 percent of the planet. The Post won the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting this year for its series of articles investigating these hot spots.
The Post is now making its analysis of U.S. climate data accessible to the public to promote a deeper understanding of the regional and local effects of climate change. The data will allow you to create your own charts showing the changing temperatures in your county or state, map temperature change in your region and explore seasonal differences in climate change.
How to download this data
We are offering several data files that are the product of our analysis of climate change in the contiguous United States from 1895-2019 and can be downloaded from the following links:
- A spreadsheet of temperature change estimates by state (CSV format)
- A spreadsheet of temperature change estimates by county (CSV format)
- Spatial temperature change data for counties in the contiguous U.S. (GeoJSON format)
- Spatial temperature change data for the contiguous U.S. (GeoTIFF format)
More details about the methodology for each of these files can be found in our GitHub repository, which also contains the code used to produce the files.
When publishing a story, graphic or other work based on this data set, please credit The Washington Post, link to the original source, and send us an email so that we can track the ways in which this data is used.
About our analysis
To analyze warming temperatures in the United States, The Washington Post used the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Divisional Database (nClimDiv) and Gridded 5km GHCN-Daily Temperature and Precipitation Dataset (nClimGrid) data sets, which provide monthly temperature data between 1895 and 2019 for the Lower 48 states. We calculated annual mean temperature trends in each state and county in the Lower 48 using linear regression — analyzing both annual average temperatures and temperatures for the three-month winter season (December, January and February).