Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Main Culprit of Deadly Russian Heat Wave? Natural Variability

10.03.2011
The deadly Russian heat wave of 2010 was due to a natural atmospheric phenomenon often associated with weather extremes, according to a new study. And while the scientists could not attribute the intensity of this particular heat wave to climate change, they found that extreme heat waves are likely to become increasingly frequent in the region in coming decades.

The research team drew from scientific observations and computer climate models to evaluate the possible roles of natural and human- caused climate influences on the severity of the heat wave. The study has been accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

"Knowledge of prior regional climate trends and current levels of greenhouse gas concentrations would not have helped us anticipate the 2010 summer heat wave in Russia," said lead author Randall Dole of NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) in Boulder, Colo. "Nor did ocean temperatures or sea ice status in early summer of 2010 suggest what was to come in Russia."

Temperatures in the upper 90s to above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (35 to 45 degrees Celsius) scorched western Russia and surrounding areas from July through mid-August, 2011. In Moscow, the long- term daily average temperatures for July range from 65 to 67 F (18 to 19C); in 2010, daily average July temperatures soared up to 87F (31C). Daily average temperatures include the night. The exceptional heat over such a long duration, combined with poor air quality from wildfires increased deaths by at least 56,000 in Moscow and other parts of western Russia, according to Munich Reinsurance, and led to massive crop failures in the region.

While a contribution to the heat wave from climate change could not be entirely ruled out, if it was present, it played a much smaller role than naturally occurring meteorological processes in explaining this heat wave's intensity.

The researchers cautioned that this extreme event provides a glimpse into the region's future as greenhouse gases continue to increase, and the signal of a warming climate, even at this regional scale, begins to emerge more clearly from natural variability in coming decades. Climate models evaluated for the new study show a rapidly increasing risk of such heat waves in western Russia, from less than one percent in 2010, to 10 percent or more by the end of this century.

"It appears that parts of Russia are on the cusp of a period in which the risk of extreme heat events will increase rapidly," said co- author Martin Hoerling, also from ESRL.

Dole, who is also with the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado at Boulder, called the intensity of this heat wave a "climate surprise,"

expected to occur only very rarely in Russia's current climate. With the possibility of more such events in the future, studying the Russian event better prepares scientists to understand climate phenomena that will affect the U.S. and other parts of the globe.

The team -- led by Dole, Hoerling, and Judith Perlwitz from CIRES -- sifted through long-term observations and results from

22 global climate models, looking for trends that might help explain the extraordinarily high temperatures in western Russia during the 2010 summer. They also ran atmospheric models that used observed global sea surface temperatures, Arctic sea ice conditions and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations in 2010 to assess whether such factors might have contributed to the heat wave.

The heat wave was due primarily to a natural phenomenon called an atmospheric "blocking pattern", in which a strong high pressure system developed and remained stationary over western Russian, keeping summer storms and cool air from sweeping through the region and leading to the extreme hot and dry conditions. While the blocking pattern associated with the 2010 event was unusually intense and persistent, its major features were similar to atmospheric patterns associated with prior extreme heat wave events in the region since 1880, the researchers found.

They also found that western Russia has not experienced significant climate warming during the summer season over the 130 years from 1880 to 2009, despite significant warming of globally averaged temperatures during that time. Such a "warming hole" is not unique to that region and is not entirely unexpected, as the Earth is not uniformly warming and experiences distinct geographic areas that may be warmer or cooler than the average trend.

"We know that climate change is not taking place at the same rate everywhere on the globe," said Hoerling. "Western Russia is one of the parts of the world that has not seen a significant increase in summertime temperatures. The U.S. Midwest is another."

Dole compared his team's findings to trying to hear a quiet conversation underneath the roar of a noisy fan: a summertime signal due to climate change over western Russia was drowned out by the much larger climate "noise," or variability, resulting from natural processes.

Another study also accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters finds that the heat wave's initial stage, from June through nearly the end of July, could have been predicted in advance, but not its continuation well into August. In a retrospective investigation of forecasts by five different weather forecasting centers, Mio Matsueda of the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, in Tsukuba, concludes that the first phase of the atmospheric blocking responsible for the heat wave could have been predicted even nine days in advance. But the forecast centers later err by indicating a breakup of the blockage starting on July 30. In fact, the phenomenon persisted until August 9.

Notes for Journalists
Journalists and public information officers (PIOs) of educational
and scientific institutions who have registered with AGU can
download a PDF copy of this paper in press by Dole et al. by
clicking on this link:
http://www.agu.org/journals/pip/gl/2010GL046582-pip.pdf
The paper by Matsueda is also in press and can be downloaded at:
http://www.agu.org/journals/pip/gl/2010GL046557-pip.pdf
Or, you may order a copy of either or both of these papers by
emailing your request to Peter Weiss at pweiss@agu.org. Please
provide your name, the name of your publication, and your phone
number.
Neither of these papers nor this press release are under embargo.
Title/Authors/Contact Info for each study:
Dole et al. (NOAA and CIRES)
Title:
"Was There a Basis for Anticipating the 2010 Russian Heat
Wave?"
Authors:
Randall Dole and Martin Hoerling: NOAA/Earth System Research
Laboratory, Physical Sciences Division, Boulder, Colorado, USA;
Judith Perlwitz, Jon Eischeid, Philip Pegion, Tao Zhang, Xiao-Wei
Quan, Taiyi Xu, and Donald Murray: Cooperative Institute for
Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado,
Boulder, Colorado, USA.
Contact information for authors:
Randall Dole, deputy director of research, Physical Science
Division, NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, +1 (303)
497-5812, randall.m.dole@noaa.gov
Matsueda (Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and
Technology)
Title:
"Predictability of Euro-Russian blocking in summer of 2010"
Authors:
Mio Matsueda: Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and
Technology, Tsukuba, Japan.
Contact information for authors:
Mio Matsueda, mimatsue@mri-jma.go.jp (Time zone in Tsukuba,
Japan, is 14 hours ahead of U.S. East Coast)

Peter Weiss | American Geophysical Union
Further information:
http://www.agu.org
http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/csi/moscow2010

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht NASA's AIM observes early noctilucent ice clouds over Antarctica
05.12.2016 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht GPM sees deadly tornadic storms moving through US Southeast
01.12.2016 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA's AIM observes early noctilucent ice clouds over Antarctica

05.12.2016 | Earth Sciences

Shape matters when light meets atom

05.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers uncover protein-based “cancer signature”

05.12.2016 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>