Climate researchers: Russian heat wave was natural

Mar 09, 2011 By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID , AP Science Writer

(AP) -- Global warming isn't directly to blame for last summer's deadly - and extraordinary - heat wave in Russia, researchers said in a report Wednesday that came with a climate warning.

"We may be on the cusp of a period in which the probability of such events increases rapidly, due primarily to the influence of projected increases in greenhouse gas concentrations," said the team led by Randall Dole and Martin Hoerling of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

It was the warmest July since at least 1880 in western Russia. The heat wave led to an increase in deaths in the region, as well as drought, widespread fires, increased and severe crop damage. Also affected by the warming were Belarus, Ukraine and the Baltic nations.

The extreme heat raised questions about links to - the rising temperatures worldwide that most atmospheric scientists attribute to being pumped into the air by industrial and other processes over the last century or so.

The intense heat wave in Russia "was mainly due to natural internal atmospheric variability," the scientists reported in a paper to be published in .

The cause in this case, they said, was a strong and long-lived blocking pattern that prevented movement of weather systems. Blocking patterns occur when the high-level jet stream directing the movement of weather develops a sharp wave pattern. This forces storms to move around an area while conditions there stagnate.

"Similar atmospheric patterns have occurred with prior heat waves in this region," although those have been less severe, Dole and Hoerling said.

There are indications the blocking pattern forcing storms to move also affected subsequent flooding in Pakistan, they said.

"To be sure, it was a rare event. But rare events happen and rarity alone doesn't imply cause," Dole said at a briefing.

It's important to study the causes of events such as this heat wave because they have global economic impacts, Hoerling said. The reduced Russian grain yields about 40 percent, resulting in a decline in the world's grain supply.

Hoerling said researchers were surprised to find that the region hadn't experienced the rising temperatures that have impacted much of the planet.

"While the globe as a whole, on an annual basis, is warming, there can be important regional differences," Hoerling said. The 1930s remain the warmest decade on record for western Russia, unlike the planet as a whole, for which the past 10 years have been the warmest on record, he said.

The U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found evidence that global warming contributed to heat waves in other areas and probably is to cause stronger and more frequent heat waves in future.

Hoerling heads the climate attribution team at NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory and Dole is deputy director of the physical sciences division of the lab.

Explore further: Image: Dronning Maud Land in Antarctica, as seen by ESA's Proba-1

More information: NOAA: http://www.noaa.gov

0 shares

Related Stories

Scientists say global warming is continuing

Jul 29, 2010

(AP) -- Scientists from around the world are providing even more evidence of global warming, one day after President Barack Obama renewed his call for climate legislation.

Determining how warm this summer really was

Oct 01, 2010

An unparalleled heat wave in eastern Europe, coupled with intense droughts and fires around Moscow, put Earth's temperatures in the headlines this summer. Likewise, a string of exceptionally warm days in July ...

Recommended for you

Can lightning strike an indoor pool?

5 hours ago

Two swimming pool weather policies have surprised me in recent years. One was when I showed up to swim laps at an outdoor pool as it was beginning to drizzle. "Come on in," I was told; as long as there was no lightning, the ...

Image: Eruption of Wolf Volcano, Galapagos Islands

7 hours ago

In late May 2015, the highest volcano in the Galapagos Islands erupted for the first time in 33 years. The explosive eruption at Wolf volcano on Isabela Island sent volcanic gases and ash roughly 15 kilometers ...

NASA sees new depression forms near Solomon Islands

22 hours ago

The Southern Pacific Ocean Tropical Cyclone Season just got an extension with the birth of a new tropical depression near the Solomon Islands. NASA's Aqua satellite passed over the new depression and saw ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

ted208
2.3 / 5 (6) Mar 09, 2011
This is not news. The Russians were say just this last summer only the global warming alarmist were trying to hype it up as CO2 driven and as evidence of so called global warming!
Howhot
2.6 / 5 (5) Mar 09, 2011
Darn Ted208, did you even read the article? Let me quote it;

"We may be on the cusp of a period in which the probability of such events increases rapidly, due primarily to the influence of projected increases in greenhouse gas concentrations,"


It's important to study the causes of events such as this heat wave because they have global economic impacts, Hoerling said. The heat wave reduced Russian grain yields about 40 percent, resulting in a decline in the world's grain supply.


The U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found evidence that global warming contributed to heat waves in other areas and probably is to cause stronger and more frequent heat waves in future


Oh sorry the headline is misleading; "heat wave was natural".

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.