Climatic Change

, Volume 108, Issue 1, pp 357-382

First online:

The identification of distinct patterns in California temperature trends

  • Eugene C. CorderoAffiliated withDepartment of Meteorology and Climate Science, San José State University Email author 
  • , Wittaya KessomkiatAffiliated withDepartment of Meteorology and Climate Science, San José State University
  • , John AbatzoglouAffiliated withDepartment of Geography, University of Idaho
  • , Steven A. MaugetAffiliated withU.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, USDA Plant Stress and Water Conservation Laboratory

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Regional changes in California surface temperatures over the last 80 years are analyzed using station data from the US Historical Climate Network and the National Weather Service Cooperative Network. Statistical analyses using annual and seasonal temperature data over the last 80 years show distinctly different spatial and temporal patterns in trends of maximum temperature (Tmax) compared to trends of minimum temperature (Tmin). For trends computed between 1918 and 2006, the rate of warming in Tmin is greater than that of Tmax. Trends computed since 1970 show an amplified warming rate compared to trends computed from 1918, and the rate of warming is comparable between Tmin and Tmax. This is especially true in the southern deserts, where warming trends during spring (March–May) are exceptionally large. While observations show coherent statewide positive trends in Tmin, trends in Tmax vary on finer spatial and temporal scales. Accompanying the observed statewide warming from 1970 to 2006, regional cooling trends in Tmax are observed during winter and summer. These signatures of regional temperature change suggest that a collection of different forcing mechanisms or feedback processes must be present to produce these responses.