Exploration 1

How to Graph Temperature Data and Analyze Recent Heat Waves

A heat wave is generally a period of several days to weeks of abnormally hot weather that may or may not be accompanied by high humidity. The World Meteorological Organization defines a heat wave as five or more consecutive days of temperatures 5°C (9°F) above the average maximum temperature. Because the average maximum temperature varies from one location to another, what is considered a heat wave in one location may not be considered a heat wave in another. For sake of simplicity in this investigation, we will refer to a heat wave as 3 consecutive days over 95°F.

Directions: You will be analyzing the minimum and maximum temperatures for one city. Follow the directions below to create a graph of the maximum and minimum temperatures for the city you select.

***To print this exploration and record your responses, download this PDF document .***

  1. Go to http://www.wunderground.com/history/
  2. Under Weather History, in the location field, type in one of the following cities:
    1. Niamey, Niger – June – August 2010
    2. Sukkur, Pakistan – June – August 2010
    3. Guadalupe Pass, Texas – June – August 2011
    4. Washington, DC – June – August 2010
    5. Baton Rouge, Louisiana – June – August 2010
    6. Moscow, Russia – June – August 2010
    7. King Khaled, Saudi Arabia – June – August 2010

    Leave the date field as the default date. You will edit this in the next step. Click Submit.

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  3. Click on the Custom tab and then choose the beginning and end month and day. Click Go.
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  4. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on Comma Delimited File. A new browser window will open with your data in a very “messy” format.
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  5. In your browser file menu, click on Save Page As and name your file appropriately (City Name, Months and Year) and end the file name with “.txt”. Make sure that the Save As Type says Text Files. Click Save. Make sure that you save the file to a location where you can find it.
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  6. Open Microsoft Office.
  7. In the File menu, click Open. Go to the location where you saved your .txt file.
  8. To see your .txt file, you will need to click on the drop-down arrow next to All Excel Files and then choose Text Files (*.prn;*.txt:*.csv). Select your file and click on Open.
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  9. The Text Import Wizard – Step 1 of 3 appears on your screen. Make sure that Delimited is selected. Next to Start import at row, change the number to 7. Leave File origin as the default. Click Next.
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  10. In Step 2 of 3, select Tab and Comma, then click Next.
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  11. In Step 3 of 3, make sure that General is selected, then click Finish.
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  12. Your data will now be imported into Excel. You may see #### instead of a date in column A. If so, you will need to expand the width of the column for the date to display correctly in all cells.
  13. Right click on column C and select Hide.
  14. Right click on row 1 and select Insert. You will see that there is now a row for you to add your column headings. Label the column headings as you see in the graphic: Column A – DATE, Column B – MAX TEMP, Column D – MIN TEMP.

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  15. Select all of the data in columns A, B, and D by clicking in cell A1 and dragging to the last cell in D with data. The area should be highlighted blue.
  16. On the Insert menu, click on Line>2D Line>Line.
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  17. You can edit your graph to change the line colors, include a title, add minor gridlines, etc.
    1. Change line colors – Let’s make the max temp red and the min temp blue. Right click (Ctrl+Click on Mac) on the line>Format data series>Select Line color>Solid line>Select your color. You can choose to add other effects here as well.
    2. Chart, axis titles and gridlines – Click on the chart and click on the Layout tab.
      1. Choose Chart title>Above Chart title and add the title Max and Min Temperatures in June - August 2010
      2. Choose Axis Titles>Primary Horizontal Axis Title>Title Add the axis title Date .
      3. Choose Axis Titles>Primary Vertical Axis Title>Rotated Title. Add the axis title Temperature (°F).
      4. Choose Gridlines>Primary Horizontal gridlines>Major & Minor Gridlines.
      5. Choose Gridlines>Primary Vertical gridlines>Major & Minor Gridlines.
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  18. Your completed graph should look similar to the graph below. Right click on the graph in the Excel spreadsheet and select copy. Open a Microsoft Office Word document and use the Page Layout to change orientation to Landscape. Right click and select paste. Add your name to the word document and print it to turn in.
  19. Answer the questions on the answer sheet as you analyze your findings
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If you would like to convert your temperature data to Celsius, follow these instructions:
  1. Before creating your graph (Step 17), insert two new columns between the date and the Max Temp . Right click on column B and select Insert. Do this a second time. You should now have two columns.
  2. Highlight both columns B and C. Right click and select Format Cells. Under the Number tab, select Number and then change the number of Decimal places to 0. Click OK.
  3. Select cell B2 and type in the follow: =(D2-32)*5/9. Click Enter. (D2 should be the cell with your Max Temp data.)
  4. Copy cell B2, highlight cell B3 and the remainder of column B. Right click in the highlighted column and select Paste.
  5. Select cell C2 and type in the follow: =(F2-32)*5/9. Click Enter. (F2 should be the cell with your Min Temp data.)
  6. Copy cell C2, highlight cell C3 and the remainder of column C. Right click in the highlighted column and select Paste.
  7. Label columns B and C MaxTemp and MinTemp.
  8. Continue with Step 15 above to create your graph using columns A, B, and C.