Skip to content

Climate Data Analysis with Pandas in Python

Updated: at 05:23 AM

Climate change is one of the most pressing global issues today. Analyzing large climate datasets can provide meaningful insights into long-term climate patterns and trends. Python is a popular programming language for climate data analysis due to its powerful data manipulation capabilities.

Pandas is an open-source Python library that provides high-performance, easy-to-use data structures and data analysis tools for Python programming. Pandas allows fast analysis and data cleaning and preparation. It is widely used for working with climate data in formats like CSV, Excel, SQL databases, and time-series data.

This comprehensive guide will demonstrate using Pandas for climate data analysis in Python. We will learn how to handle time-series climate data, calculate temperature anomalies, visualize trends, and conduct statistical analysis to understand climate patterns. Real-world climate dataset examples will be used to illustrate the key concepts.

Importing Climate Datasets

When working with climate data in Pandas, the first step is importing the dataset into a Pandas DataFrame. Climate data is often available as CSV files or can be downloaded from online repositories and APIs.

Pandas read_csv() method can read CSV data into a DataFrame. We will import a CSV file containing daily temperature data for New York City from Kaggle:

import pandas as pd

nyc_temp = pd.read_csv('nyc_temp.csv')

The DataFrame will contain columns like date, average temperature, minimum temperature etc. We can inspect the initial rows using nyc_temp.head() and get summary statistics using

For dealing with large climate datasets, we may only need to extract certain regions or date ranges from the full data. Pandas provides flexible options to handle this:

# Extract 1990-2000 data only
nyc_temp_90s = pd.read_csv('nyc_temp.csv', parse_dates=['date'], index_col='date', usecols=[0,3], squeeze=True, decimal=',',
    nrows=3652, skiprows=3653, names=['temp'])

# Extract 2000-2010 data only
nyc_temp_00s = pd.read_csv('nyc_temp.csv', parse_dates=['date'], index_col='date', usecols=[0,3], squeeze=True, decimal=',',
    skiprows=7305, names=['temp'])

Here we use parameters like parse_dates, index_col, usecols, squeeze, decimal, nrows, skiprows etc. to efficiently extract the subsets of data needed for our analysis.

Handling Time Series Data

Climate data is often time-series data indexed by date. Pandas has built-in capabilities for working with time-series data in DatetimeIndex format.

The parse_dates and index_col parameters while reading CSV data can designate the ‘date’ column as the Pandas DataFrame index. This converts the dates to Pandas DatetimeIndex:

import pandas as pd

climate_data = pd.read_csv('climate_data.csv', parse_dates=['date'], index_col='date')

# DatetimeIndex(['1990-01-01', '1990-01-02', '1990-01-03', ...,
#                '2000-12-30'], dtype='datetime64[ns]', name='date', length=4017)

With a DatetimeIndex, we can easily select or filter rows based on dates for time-series analysis:

# Get temperatures for Jan 1990
jan1990 = climate_data['1990-01']

# Get temperatures for Fall months
fall_temp = climate_data[climate_data.index.month.isin([9,10,11])]

Pandas has expanded datetime capabilities for time-series data including date offsets, frequency conversion, moving window operations etc. These become very useful in climate data analysis.

For example, a common task is resampling time-series data from daily to monthly frequency for trend analysis:

monthly_max = climate_data['Temperature'].resample('M').max()

Rolling window operations help analyze smoothed trends over time:

# 12-month rolling average temperatures
yearly_avg = climate_data['Temperature'].rolling(window=365).mean()

Calculating Temperature Anomalies

An important climate analysis task is calculating temperature anomalies - the deviation from historic average temperatures. This helps identify abnormal patterns of warming or cooling over time.

With Pandas’ time-series capabilities, we can easily calculate anomalies. We will use the CRUTEM4 global monthly temperature dataset:

# Read the dataset
crutem = pd.read_csv('CRUTEM4.csv', parse_dates=['date'], index_col='date')

# Resample to annual frequency
crutem_annual = crutem.resample('Y').mean()

# Calculate baseline mean from 1961-1990
baseline = crutem_annual['1961':'1990'].mean(axis=0)

# Calculate anomalies by subtracting baseline
anomalies = crutem_annual - baseline

This outputs annual global temperature anomalies compared to the 1961-1990 baseline period:

   Temperature anomaly (Celsius)
1850                       -0.405038
1851                       -0.305846
1852                       -0.564415
1853                       -0.467172
1854                       -0.573538

We can easily visualize the anomalies to see warming and cooling patterns over time.

Visualization is key to identifying trends and patterns in climate data. Pandas integrates well with Python’s matplotlib, seaborn and plotly libraries to create informative climate data visualizations.

Importing matplotlib:

import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

Basic time-series line plot of temperatures:


plt.title('NYC Temperatures')
plt.ylabel('Temperature (F)')

The anomalies calculated earlier can be plotted as a line chart:


plt.title('Global Temperature Anomalies')
plt.ylabel('Anomaly (Celsius)')

This clearly shows the warming trend in recent decades.

Seaborn’s time-series plots offer more customization options:

import seaborn as sns


ax = sns.lineplot(data=anomalies)
ax.set_title('Global Temperature Anomalies')

For geographic data, chloropleth maps using Folium or Plotly Express are very useful:

import folium

# Create map centered on NYC
nyc_map = folium.Map(location=[40.7128, -74.0060], zoom_start=10)

# Add chloropleth layer showing temperatures
folium.Choropleth(geo_data='nyc_geos.json', data=nyc_temp,
                  columns=['Temp'], key_on='',
                  fill_color='RdBu', fill_opacity=0.7, line_opacity=0.2).add_to(nyc_map)


This generates an interactive chloropleth map of NYC temperatures.

Statistical Analysis

Statistical analysis is important for identifying significant climate patterns and trends. Pandas integrates with Statsmodels for statistical modeling in Python.

For example, linear regression can assess the correlation between variables over time:

import statsmodels.formula.api as smf

# Linear regression between date and temperature
model = smf.ols('Temp ~ date', data=climate_data).fit()


The regression summary output gives the equation coefficients, p-values, R-squared etc. to quantify the correlation.

Time-series decomposition separates climate time-series data into trend and seasonal components:

from statsmodels.tsa.seasonal import seasonal_decompose

result = seasonal_decompose(climate_data['Temp'], model='additive', freq=365)


Statistical tests like Dickey-Fuller test can identify stationarity and unit roots in time-series data:

from statsmodels.tsa.stattools import adfuller

dftest = adfuller(climate_data['Temp'])

print('ADF Statistic: %f' % dftest[0])
print('p-value: %f' % dftest[1])

These tests help validate assumptions required for advanced time-series forecasting models.

Case Study - Analyzing Arctic Sea Ice Extent

Let’s apply the concepts covered to analyze Arctic sea ice extent using Pandas. We will use the Kaggle sea ice dataset.

Read the CSV data into a DataFrame and handle the dates:

ice = pd.read_csv('sea_ice.csv', parse_dates=['date'], index_col='date')

Resample to annual frequency and calculate minima:

ice_annual = ice.resample('Y').min()

Visualize the annual minimum ice extent over time:


plt.title('Arctic Sea Ice Minimum Extent')
plt.ylabel('Extent (millions of sq km)')

Calculate anomalies relative to 1980-2010 average:

baseline = ice_annual['1980':'2010'].mean()
anomalies = ice_annual - baseline

Plot the anomalies to highlight the steep decline:


plt.axhline(0, color='black')
plt.title('Arctic Sea Ice Extent Anomalies')
plt.ylabel('Anomaly (millions of sq km)')

Statistical analysis and modeling can further quantify trends and make predictions. This case study demonstrates applying Pandas for an end-to-end climate data analysis workflow.


Pandas is a versatile tool for analyzing large climate datasets in Python. This guide covered handling time-series data; calculating anomalies; data visualization; and statistical analysis techniques using Pandas for climate data insights. The same approach can be applied to other climate variables like precipitation, wind, and humidity.

By combining Pandas with Python’s vast data science ecosystem, powerful climate data applications can be built to study climate change impacts, derive actionable insights, and drive solutions.