Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Russian heat wave had both manmade and natural causes

21.02.2012
The heat wave that struck western Russia in summer 2010, killing 55,000 people, broke July temperatures records and caused $15 billion in damage.

Searching for a culprit for the soaring temperatures, research teams have identified either natural or manmade causes. But a new study concludes the devastating heat wave had both. Soaring temperatures were within the natural range for a Russian summer, the researchers found, but due to human- induced climate change, the chance of such an extreme heat wave has tripled over the past several decades.

"Natural variability could lead to such a heat wave," said Friederike Otto of the Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University, lead author of the paper. "However due to the global warming trend, the frequency of occurrence of such a heat wave has increased."

Otto and her colleagues used a climate model that was able to run thousands of simulations. The model was part of the weatherathome.net project, which uses volunteers' idle computers in order to increase the computing power and answer complex questions - like the role of climate change in a particular extreme event.

The researchers ran two sets of simulations. One set looked at heat waves that would be expected using 1960s climate conditions including temperature, sea ice thickness and extent, and greenhouse gas forcing. The second set examined heat waves under those conditions for the 2000s. Under the earlier set of conditions, the simulated July temperatures for western Russia did reach the recent heat wave's actual maximum, which topped 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees

Fahrenheit) and had a comparable pattern of daily above-average temperatures that peaked at about 12 degrees Celsius (22 degrees Fahrenheit) beyond the mean. So the magnitude of the heat wave could be due to natural factors, the researchers concluded.

However when the researchers ran their computer simulations, 2010 temperatures were only reached every 99 years or so under the pre-global warming conditions. Under the current, warmer, climate of the 2000s, those extreme temperatures popped up in the model every 33 years

- a three-fold increase over just four decades.

'These results show that the same weather event can be both "mostly natural" in terms of magnitude and "mostly human-induced" in terms of probability,' explained Neil Massey of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, Oxford University, who was also an author of the study. 'Thinking in these terms makes it possible to calculate, for instance, how much human- induced climate change cost the Russian economy in the summer of 2010.'

The research will be published in an upcoming Geophysical Research Letters, a publication of the American Geophysical Union.

This new way of approaching the problem reconciles apparently contradictory results from two separate 2011 studies, Otto said. In the first of those studies, by Randall Dole of NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) in Boulder, Colo, and his colleagues, researchers focused on why the heat wave was as large as it was - coming up with a natural explanation. The second, by Stefan Rahmstorf and Dim Coumou with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Potsdam, Germany, asked the question of how frequently such heat waves will occur, finding a manmade acceleration.

The new study stresses the need to examine both the magnitude and frequency of extreme events, Otto said. "It's necessary to analyze both, to really judge the role of global warming," she said. And the results will vary with respect to the event. In a separate study, when the researchers looked at flood risk in the United Kingdom, they found that the risk for fall floods increased under warmer climate conditions, but decreased for spring floods.

Given the cost of extreme weather events, determining how the risks are changing allows scientists to better quantify the events and possibly to help build resilience in society's responses to them, said Myles Allen, a professor in the School of Geography and Environment, Oxford University, co-author of the GRL paper and the principal investigator of the weatherathome.net and climateprediction.net projects.

"People deserve to know how much climate change is affecting them," Allen said, "and we have the methods to answer the question: How is human influence loading the weather dice?"

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 clicking on this link:

http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2011GL050422

Or, you may order a copy of the final paper by emailing your request to Kate Ramsayer at kramsayer@agu.org. Please provide your name, the name of your publication, and your phone number.

Neither the paper nor this press release are under embargo.

Title:
"Reconciling two approaches to attribution of the 2010 Russian heat wave"
Authors:
Friederike Elly Luise Otto: Environmental Change Institute, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom;

Neil Massey: Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, and Atmospheric Oceanic and Planetary Physics, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom;

Geert Jan van Oldenborgh: Department of Climate Research and Seismology, Koninklijk Nederlands Meteorologisch Instituut, De Bilt, The Netherlands;

Richard G. Jones: Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, Met Office, Exeter, United Kingdom;

Myles R Allen: Environmental Change Institute, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom;

Contact information for the authors:
Myles Allen, Telephone: +44 (0)7776 306691, Email: myles.allen@physics.ox.ac.uk
AGU Contact:
Kate Ramsayer
+1 (202) 777-7524
kramsayer@agu.org
University of Oxford Contact:
Pete Wilton
+44 (0)1865 283877
press.office@admin.ox.ac.uk

Kate Ramsayer | American Geophysical Union
Further information:
http://www.agu.org

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

'On-off switch' brings researchers a step closer to potential HIV vaccine

30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine

Penn studies find promise for innovations in liquid biopsies

30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine

An LED-based device for imaging radiation induced skin damage

30.03.2017 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>