SWMP data: Let’s plot this weekend’s temperature!

Figure 2: Here is a temperature plot from a January 14th post!

Here is a temperature plot from a January 14th post showing a cold snap!

This weekend, the parts of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic have been experiencing some really warm temperatures.

Whether you are a scientist, a teacher, or just an interested individual, plotting temperature can be really informative and even exciting way to visualize this heat advisory.

One of the greatest assets of the NERRS is the System-Wide Monitoring Program (SWMP), which makes parameters such as temperature, humidity, and precipitation easily available. SWMP data is take every 15 minutes, allowing you to see the nearly instantaneous changes in weather rather than just get the daily high and low.

In today’s post, I will demonstrate how I use Excel to make some of the figures I commonly post here, such as the the image’s from last week’s post!

Step 1: Get the data!

SWMP data is downloadable from the Centralized Data Management Office located here: http://cdmo.baruch.sc.edu/.

Get data:

Get data: Go to the Data Export System on the CDMO website, select your Reserve of choice, select your desired data range, and voila! You’ll get an Excel spreadsheet emailed to you!

2For today’s example, I was only interested in temperature, so I deleted the other cells so it wouldn’t get crowded. The data comes in metric units, that is Celsius for temperature; however, I will be converting it to Fahrenheit since these units are more recognizable in the United States.

But I encourage you to remember this simple rhyme in case a plot is ever in Celcius: 30 is hot, 20 is pleasing, 10 is cool, 0 is freezing!

Step 2: Make the plot in Excel

You don’t need to be fancy, Excel can be easily used to make some pretty plots! With a few tips, you can have a customized plot.

Picture1Excel is very user-friendly and has some wonderful pre-set designs that can make this plot really pop. Play around with the background colors, line style, and even images until you are content!

One plot, 4 easy designs!

One plot, 4 easy designs!

Step 3: Interpret the data!

It is one thing making the graph, but the true purpose is to understand what the data is displaying! I often like to use Powerpoint to add captions into the plot to highlight important points.

Our plot(s) here show that this weekend was really warm in Maryland!

Picture3Step 0: Even easier!

What’s another way you can look at the SWMP data even easier and quicker? The plotting function from the CDMO website!


You can plot two parameters at once on the CDMO website to look at connectivity, such as this inverse relationship between temperature and relative humidity!

So the SWMP data can be a fun way to “see” this heat wave we are currently experiencing in the Chesapeake Bay region! You have tools at the ready to go as in depth into the data as you need!

Kari Pohl

About Kari Pohl

I am a post-doctoral researcher at NOAA and the University of Maryland (Center for Environmental Science at Horn Point Laboratory). My work investigates how climate variability and extremes affect the diverse ecosystems in Chesapeake Bay.

I received a Ph.D. in oceanography from the University of Rhode Island (2014) and received a B.S. in Environmental Science and a B.A. in Chemistry from Roger Williams University (2009).

When I am not busy being a scientist, my hobbies include running, watching (and often yelling at) the Boston Bruins, and taking photos of my cat.

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