Getting Rid of the Jitters: Finding the Trend

  • Richard L. Scheaffer
  • Ann Watkins
  • Mrudulla Gnanadesikan
  • Jeffrey A. Witmer
Part of the Textbooks in mathematical sciences book series (TIMS)


Is there a trend toward global warming, or is the relatively warm weather of recent years just part of the variability expected in a process like the weather? This question is much debated partly because it is difficult to see long-term trends in data that is subject to many short-term fluctuations (sometimes called “jitters”). Some of the fluctuations can be removed, however, by “smoothing” the data. In this lesson, moving averages will be used to smooth temperature data from the coastal northeastern United States so that trends can be spotted more easily.


Global Warming Average Annual Temperature Diurnal Temperature Range Warm Weather National Climatic Data 
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    Karl T.R., Baldwin R.G. and Burgin M.G. (1988) Time series of regional seasonal averages of maximum, minimum and average temperature, and diurnal temperature range across the United States: 1901-1984. Historical Climatology Series 4 - 5. National Climatic Data Center. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service. Asheville, North Carolina.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Basic Petroleum Data Book. Petroleum Industry Statistics, Volume XIV, Number 1, January 1994, American Petroleum Institute, Washington D.C.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard L. Scheaffer
    • 1
  • Ann Watkins
    • 2
  • Mrudulla Gnanadesikan
    • 3
  • Jeffrey A. Witmer
    • 4
  1. 1.University of FloridaUSA
  2. 2.California State UniversityNorthridgeUSA
  3. 3.Fairleigh Dickinson UniversityUSA
  4. 4.Oberlin CollegeUSA

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