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Meteorological indicators

Meteorology is the study of the atmosphere and indicators such as seasons, climate, precipitation, storms, temperature, and air pressure.
Meteorological indicators provide valuable metrics to determine how the climate is changing. Unlike weather, climate is the average weather conditions and patterns for a specific place over a long period of time, about 30 years or more.
Changes in temperature, precipitation, and extreme weather events have the ability to negatively affect health.
These changes can negatively impact agriculture, increase heat waves, reduce air quality, and increase food-, water-, and animal-borne diseases.

Different regions of Utah have different climate patterns and therefore will be impacted by climate change in different ways.
Within Utah there are several distinct climate regions. The National Climate Data Center has classified these different regions as: Western, Dixie, North Central, South Central, Northern Mountains, Uinta Basin, and Southeast. Most of Utah is considered semi-arid, which is characterized by light rainfall (more than 10 inches, but less than 20 inches of rain each year). The mountain regions and higher elevations within the valley are considered humid continental, meaning winters are fairly cold, summers are quite hot, and there is a good amount of humidity and precipitation. Areas of Utah where the elevation is above 11,000 feet are considered sub-arctic. Winters in the subarctic climate regions of Utah are severe and cold, and summers remain cool.
According to NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information, the early 21st century has been the warmest period on record for Utah; projections predict continued increase, depending on different emissions scenarios.
Since 1900, temperatures in Utah have risen by 2.7°F. In a future with lower greenhouse gas emissions, experts project a temperature increase of 2-8°F relative to current temperatures. In a future with higher greenhouse gas emissions, this projected increase ranges from 6-16°F relative to current temperatures.

The number of very warm nights has been increasing, while the number of very cold nights has been declining.
Very warm nights are classified as the number of days with minimum temperatures of 75°F or higher. Since 1990, the number of very warm nights over 5-year periods has been above the long-term average of 1.6 nights per year. Every year before 1990 this number fell below the long-term average. In comparison, the number of very cold nights over 5-year periods after 1990 have been below the long-term average. Very cold nights are those where the minimum temperature is 0°F or lower.

Droughts, wildfires, and extreme precipitation are projected to increase in frequency and severity.
Higher temperatures coupled with Utah's semiarid climate will directly impact soil moisture and make naturally dry conditions worse. Temperature changes that lead to longer summers and short winters also means changes to snowpack could decrease water availability later in the year. Drought conditions brought about by dry soil and limited water and precipitation, will also increase the frequency and severity of wildfires. While floods still remain fairly rare in Utah relative to other states, rapid melting of snowpack and heavy rainfall on dry soil are two events that can cause mudslides and flooding.
Climate change affects everyone, but some communities may be disproportionately affected.
Utah's geographic diversity may allow for certain Utah communities to be unequally affected over others. This is why extensive study of meteorological indicators is necessary: to establish which populations within Utah will be the most vulnerable to adverse health outcomes due to climate change.
Taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to include adaptation strategies in everyday life are the two key ways to reduce the risk of adverse health outcomes related to climate change.
These 2 strategies are most effective when action is adopted at the local, state, regional, and federal levels, in addition to individual levels. According to the Fourth National Climate Assessment, "more immediate and substantial global greenhouse gas emissions reductions, as well as regional adaptation efforts, would be needed to avoid the most severe consequences [of climate change] in the long term."

Here are some ways you can reduce your carbon footprint:
  • Calculate your carbon footprint using the EPA's Carbon Footprint calculator.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables and reduce the amount of meat and dairy you eat.
  • Plan meals ahead of time, use leftovers, and compost food waste instead of tossing it in the garbage to reduce your food waste.
  • Buy clothes that will last. Avoid fast fashion clothes made overseas.
  • Wash your clothes in cold water and hang clothes up to dry.
  • When you shop, bring your own reusable bag and avoid items with excess packaging.
  • When buying or upgrading appliances at home, look for energy efficient products.
  • At home, change incandescent light bulbs to LEDs. This will save energy and money in the long term.
  • Be conscious of where your energy at home goes. Switch lights off when you leave the room and unplug electronic devices when not in use.
  • Drive less. If that's not an option, combine short trips/errands and make sure your car is in good driving condition (routine maintenance, tires properly inflated, etc.).
  • When flying by plane, fly nonstop, or on shorter trips avoid flying all together.


Smoke days from wildfires
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Utah Tracking receives meteorological data from the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC)

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The information provided above is from the Utah Department of Health's Center for Health Data IBIS-PH web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Sun, 26 May 2024 0:40:06 from Utah Department of Health, Center for Health Data, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: ".

Content updated: Fri, 29 Jul 2022 10:25:07 MDT