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 Scientists discover Earth's youngest banded iron formation in western China
12.07.2018 | University of Alberta

nachricht Drones survey African wildlife
11.07.2018 | Schweizerischer Nationalfonds SNF

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Research finds new molecular structures in boron-based nanoclusters

13.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

Algae Have Land Genes

13.07.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>