Meteorologists often say that it’s difficult to attribute any individual weather event to climate change, but I’m wondering, do meteorologists or weather services study or publish derivative climate data?

For example, “this is the first time temperatures have reached 30° C for seven consecutive days at this location” or maybe “this is the first eleven‑month period without snowfall at this location”.

  • $\begingroup$ Follow up: would such derivate information better indicate climate change? $\endgroup$ – Lucas Jul 15 '17 at 22:55
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    $\begingroup$ By way of background, I saw a sports match on tv the other day during which the announcer offered ridiculously detailed stats on some of the players, along the lines of “this is just the fourth time a left‑handed Presbyterian from New York’s been on the field when it’s raining outside while the stadium roof’s closed”. $\endgroup$ – Lucas Jul 15 '17 at 22:56

Since you comment on statistics provided during sport events, I should point out that this method is not scientifically sound. The reason is that for any given data you will find something that will make this dataset unique or "the first of this kind in recorded history". For a light take on this, refer to this XKCD comic.

What is methodically required is that first the criteria are defined and only then the data are evaluated. Weather services will typically publish things such as

  • Ranking average temperature within a calendar month (e.g. this July was the third hottest in recorded history (example is purely fictional)) at a certain location
  • Ranking of daily minimum/maximum temperature at some location (e.g. this was the coldest day ever measured)

Details on this will vary from country to country. There is also a wide range of measurement data or derived data for experts to analyze. Also, weather services will engage in studies about the impact of climate change.

  • $\begingroup$ What about the rate at which temperature and rainfall records are broken? For example, if a city keeps breaking minimum temperature records, but rarely breaks maximums, is that information meaningful? What about when compared to other locations? $\endgroup$ – Lucas Jan 4 '18 at 4:11

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