Causes of the Russian heat wave and Pakistani floods

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:56 PM GMT on August 13, 2010

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The Great Russian Heat Wave of 2010 is one of the most intense, widespread, and long-lasting heat waves in world history. Only the European heat wave of 2003, which killed 35,000 - 50,000 people, and the incredible North American heat wave of July 1936, which set all-time extreme highest temperature records in fifteen U.S. states, can compare. All of these heat waves were caused by a highly unusual kink in the jet stream that remained locked in place for over a month. The jet stream is an upper-level river of air, between the altitudes of about 30,000 - 40,000 feet (10,000 - 12,000 meters). In July over Europe and Asia, the jet stream has two branches: a strong southern "subtropical" jet that blows across southern Europe, and a weaker "polar" jet that blows across northern Europe. The polar jet stream carries along the extratropical cyclones (lows) that bring the mid-latitudes most of their precipitation. The polar jet stream also acts as the boundary between cold, Arctic air, and warm tropical air. If the polar jet stream shifts to the north of its usual location, areas just to its south will be much hotter and drier than normal. In July 2010, a remarkably strong polar jet stream developed over northern Europe. This jet curved far to the north of Moscow, then plunged southwards towards Pakistan. This allowed hot air to surge northwards over most of European Russia, and prevented rain-bearing low pressure systems from traveling over the region. These rain-bearing low pressure systems passed far to the north of European Russia, then dove unusually far to the south, into northern Pakistan. The heavy rains from these lows combined with Pakistan's usual summer monsoon rains to trigger Pakistan's most devastating floods in history.


Figure 1. Winds of the jet stream at an altitude of 300 millibars (roughly 30,000 feet high). Left: Average July winds from the period 1968 - 1996 show that a two-branch jet stream typically occurs over Europe and Asia--a northern "polar" jet stream, and a more southerly "subtropical" jet stream. Right: the jet stream pattern in July 2010 was highly unusual, with a very strong polar jet looping far to the north of Russia, then diving southwards towards Pakistan. Image credit: NOAA/ESRL.

What caused this unusual jet stream pattern?
The unusual jet stream pattern that led to the 2010 Russian heat wave and Pakistani floods began during the last week of June, and remained locked in place all of July and for the first half of August. Long-lived "blocking" episodes like this are usually caused by unusual sea surface temperature patterns, according to recent research done using climate models. For example, Feudale and Shukla (2010) found that during the summer of 2003, exceptionally high sea surface temperatures of 4°C (7°F) above average over the Mediterranean Sea, combined with unusually warm SSTs in the northern portion of the North Atlantic Ocean near the Arctic, combined to shift the jet stream to the north over Western Europe and create the heat wave of 2003. I expect that the current SST pattern over the ocean regions surrounding Europe played a key role in shifting the jet stream to create the heat wave of 2010. Note that the SST anomaly pattern is quite different this year compared to 2003, which may be why this year's heat wave hit Eastern Europe, and the 2003 heat wave hit Western Europe. Human-caused climate change also may have played a role; using climate models, Stott et al. (2004) found it very likely (>90% chance) that human-caused climate change has at least doubled the risk of severe heat waves like the great 2003 European heat wave.


Figure 2. A comparison of the departure of sea surface temperature (SST) from average just prior the the start of the great European heat waves of 2003 and 2010. Temperatures in the Mediterranean Sea were up to 4°C above average in 2003, which has been implicated as a major cause of the Western European heat wave of 2003. Image credit: NOAA/NESDIS.

References
Feudale, L., and J. Shukla (2010), "Influence of sea surface temperature on the European heat wave of 2003 summer. Part I: an observational study", Climate Dynamics DOI: 10.1007/s00382-010-0788-0

Stott, P.A., Stone, D.A., and M.R. Allen (2004), "Human contribution to the European heatwave of 2003", Nature 432, 610-614 (2 December 2004) | doi:10.1038/nature03089. (Here is a free version of the paper, presented at a conference.)

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has posted an analysis of the recent extreme weather events, concluding, "the sequence of current events matches IPCC projections of more frequent and more intense extreme weather events due to global warming."

See also my posts, The Great Russian Heat Wave of 2010: 102°F in Moscow and, Over 15,000 likely dead in Russian heat wave; Asian monsoon floods kill hundreds more.

Moscow sees real relief from the Great Russian Heat Wave of 2010
For the first time in more than a month, temperatures at Moscow's Domodedovo airport failed to exceed 30°C (86°F) today. Clouds and thunderstorms blew into the city this morning, keeping the high temperature down to just 29°C (84°F). This breaks a string of 35 straight days when the temperature reached 30°C. At Moscow's official observing site, the Moscow Observatory, this string was 30 days. Moscow's average high temperature for August 13 is 20°C (68°F), so today's temperatures were still well above normal. However, today's cool-down marks the beginning of the end for Russia's great heat wave. The latest forecast for Moscow calls for high temperatures below 30°C for the coming week, and Moscow may not exceed that threshold for the remainder of summer. Long range forecasts from the ECMWF and GFS models continue to suggest that a series of troughs of low pressure will attack the ridge of high pressure anchored over Russia, bringing cooler temperatures just 5°C (8°F) above average to Russia late next week. By ten days from now, the ECMWF model shows a strong trough of low pressure over Moscow, and a end to the Great Russian Heat Wave of 2010. Moscow still has to concern itself with smoke from the wildfires burning southeast of the city; winds are expected to shift early next week and bring the smoke towards the city again. However, the cooler weather should aid fire-fighting efforts, so the smoke problems should not be as bad as last week's nightmare.


Figure 2. Image from NASA's Aqua satellite of smoke from wildfires burning to the southeast of Moscow yesterday, August 12, 2010. Northerly winds were keeping the smoke from blowing over the city. Image credit: NASA.

The tropics are quiet
The remnants of Tropical Depression Five continue to bring heavy rain to portions of Southeast Louisiana today. Up to five inches of rain has fallen in regions near New Orleans. The GFS model predicts that the remains of TD 5 could move off the coast of Mississippi by the middle of next week and regenerate, but none of the other models is making this forecast. Both the GFS and ECMWF models are predicting that a tropical storm will develop off the coast of Africa by next Friday, August 20.

Donations urgently needed in Pakistan
The devastation wrought by the worst flooding in Pakistan's history requires a huge response by the international community. Wunderblogger Dr. Ricky Rood, author of our Climate Change Blog, has a friend working in Pakistan who underscored the desperate situation there:

This is the worst natural disaster in the history of Pakistan in terms of number of people and area affected. Although not as many people have been killed as in the 2005 earthquake, we have already nearly 900,000 displaced persons thus far just in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Crops are destroyed; shops, hotels, and other business have simply been swept away in Swat, which had just this year been cleared of Taliban and was on the way to recovery; and districts closer to Peshawar and parts of Peshawar district are still, or perhaps again after yesterday/today, under water. After the immediate emergency response, it will be years of rebuilding to replace what has been lost and to start to develop again. I know you have the power to control the weather, so if you cold give us a week or two without more rain at least we could keep the helicopters flying and give people a chance to go to their homes, recover what might still be there, set up tents if we can get enough to them, and start to clean up."

She gave the following recommendations for charities that do work in the flood-ravaged zone, and are effective at getting aid to those who need it the most:

Doctors Without Borders

The International Red Cross

MERLIN medical relief charity

The mobile giving service mGive allows one to text the word "SWAT" to 50555. The text will result in a $10 donation to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Pakistan Flood Relief Effort.

She mentioned that it is better to send money to the organizations doing the relief work than to try to organize shipments of goods.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting MississippiWx:


Been rainy the past few days. TD5 is the cause of that. Thank God for it because we would be unbearably hot. The northern part of MS has been up around 100 with excessive heat warnings and heat indexes around 118F. The rain is a very welcome thing, obviously! It has *only* been around 91 or 92 here the past couple of days. How about your weather??


sounds intense!

we had a heat index of 122 the other day!

have had 25 days in a row of at least 90 degrees, and 5 in a row of 95 or more. peaked at 101
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Quoting xcool:


Oh that's extreamly nasty.If that verifies then life threatning flooding could be an issue.
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Quoting washingtonian115:
hey how are you.Looks like all is well on the blog.It's cool campared to average here in d.c after a cold front passed though us with some violent thunderstorms that downed tress in my neighborhood,and others along with power failures.


Doing great! Good to see you. Glad you are having a cool spell, but sorry to hear that it came with consequence! Downed trees are never fun...experienced plenty of that with Katrina (couldn't walk 5 feet without having to step over a tree)!
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2822. xcool


better view 00z cmc





cv storms...
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15705
2820. JRRP
Quoting Levi32:


No creo :P

jejejeje
GFS is not kidding
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Quoting tornadodude:


haha true that!

yeah, Purdue basketball looks great this coming season, and we definitely have our moments in football as well. just need this little thing called consistency. :p

how's the weather?


Been rainy the past few days. TD5 is the cause of that. Thank God for it because we would be unbearably hot. The northern part of MS has been up around 100 with excessive heat warnings and heat indexes around 118F. The rain is a very welcome thing, obviously! It has *only* been around 91 or 92 here the past couple of days. How about your weather??
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2818. xcool
btwntx08 You Make Me Feel Older
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15705
Quoting MississippiWx:


Indeed. Raman is the best thing since pizza. LOL.
hey how are you.Looks like all is well on the blog.It's cool campared to average here in d.c after a cold front passed though us with some violent thunderstorms that downed tress in my neighborhood,and others along with power failures.
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2815. xcool


Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15705
2762 Kristina40 "I thought it had made a turn...My animals are starting to act crazy so I figure the low pressure is close."

That last exTD5 position was 5hours old. There'll be better info on how close in less than an hour when the new ftp://ftp.tpc.ncep.noaa.gov/atcf/tcweb/invest_al052010.invest location&etc report comes out.
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Quoting washingtonian115:
Taz your funny.plus 1.




thanks
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5093 Comments: 115799
Quoting tornadodude:



oh ok, Purdue here.


ever heard of a guy named Drew Brees? (;


LOL...Touche! Our QBs duked it out last season, but mine lost. :-( However, it was fine with me because I've liked the Saints all my life. I keep up with Purdue, though. Great basketball program and the football program isn't too shabby either.
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Discussion from TLH NWS office on forecast for remnant low TD5...

000
FXUS62 KTAE 150118
AFDTAE

AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TALLAHASSEE FL
900 PM EDT SAT AUG 14 2010

...HUMID SULTRY AIRMASS WITH NUMEROUS SHOWER AND AMPLE THUNDERSTORMS
TO CONTINUE THROUGH THE WEEKEND...

.SYNOPSIS...
DURING SAT AFTN AND INTO EVE...SCT/NMRS SHWRS AND WDLY SCT-SCT
THUNDERSTORMS MOVED NORTHEAST ACROSS THE REGION. BY 9 PM EDT...ONLY
ISOLATED SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS REMAINED.

AT UPPER LEVELS...
THE LARGE SCALE CONUS PATTERN REMAINS AMPLIFIED IN NRN STREAM
HIGHLIGHTED BY 559DM LOW OVER S/CNTRL CANADA WITH POSITIVELY TILTED
TROUGH AXIS EXTENDING OVER NRN PLAINS...RIDGING OVER ERN STATES AND
A FULL AMPLITUDE TROUGH ACROSS WRN ATLC. CONVERSELY...SRN STREAM
NOTED BY BROAD RIDGE FROM CA EWD TO JUST OFF ERN SEABOARD. UPPER LOW
NOTED OVER N/CNTRL GA (ASSOCD WITH REMNANTS OF TD 5) AND 595DM HIGH
OVER NE FL. IN BETWEEN...TROPICAL PLUME OF MOISTURE STEAMING NEWD
FROM SFC-H5 AND ACROSS LOCAL REGION. THIS REFLECTED IN AREA 00Z
RAOBS...I.E. TAE WITH 2.41 INCH PWAT.

DURING THE NEXT 48 HRS...RIDGING OVER THE REGION WILL WEAKEN AND
RETROGRADE WEST INTO THE GULF AS THE REMNANTS OF TD5 AND ASSOCD
FRONTAL TROUGH MEANDERS WWD FROM NE INTO CENTRAL GULF. THIS
RETROGRADING ALLOWS DEEPER MOISTURE FROM WRN ATLC TROUGH TO FILTER
IN.

AT LOWER LEVELS...
MAIN FEATURES ARE 1)LOW IN S/CNTRL CANADA WITH COLD FRONT EXTENDING
SWD TO IA AND THEN SSW THRU KS AND BEYOND...2) BACK DOOR FRONT OVER
ERN MOST GA SINKING SOUTHWARD TOWARDS THE REGION...3)SURFACE RIDGE
WITH AXIS ANCHORED ACROSS THE SOUTHERN PENINSULA AND 4)1012MB
LOW...REMNANTS OF TD5 LOCATED ACROSS SE ALA/SW GA BORDER.

WITH RETROGRADING RIDGE...BACK DOOR FRONT WILL CONTINUE TO SAG INTO
SERN GA ADVECTING HIGH PWATS ACROSS AREA ON SUNDAY. I.E. GFS VLD
MODEL SOUNDING WITH 2.6 INCHES PWAT AT 00Z SUN. ON MONDAY...
BOUNDARY WASHES OUT ACRS NE FL AND SOME DRIER AIR IN THE MID LEVELS
FILTERS IN ACROSS MAINLY NE TIER OF GA COUNTIES.

THE MAIN WX CONCERN WILL REMAIN THE IMPACT OF REMNANTS OF TD5. THE
MODELS REMAIN IN CLOSE AGREEMENT WITH THE REMNANT BEGINNING ITS
TRACK SOUTH AND ALONG THE ERN END OF RETROGRADING RIDGE...THUS BACK
TOWARD THE PANHANDLE COAST OVERNIGHT AND EMERGING INTO THE NORTHERN
GULF SUNDAY THROUGH MONDAY...THEN WEST HUGGING GULF COAST TOWARD NEW
ORLEANS MONDAY NIGHT AND BEYOND. MAIN IMPACT WILL BE ON TOTAL
RAINFALL ACCUMULATIONS AS IT TRACKS SOUTH OVER THE LOCAL AREA. THE
LOW IS NOT EXPECTED TO REDEVELOP OVER WATERS..STILL FORECAST TOTAL
ACCUMULATIONS FROM TONIGHT THROUGH MONDAY NIGHT ARE IN IN THE 2 TO 4
INCH RANGE AND UP TO AROUND 5 INCHES ALONG THE IMMEDIATE PANHANDLE
COASTAL AREAS. THUS LOCAL TO POSSIBLY LARGER SCALE FLOODING MUST BE
MONITORED.

.SHORT TERM (REST OF TONIGHT INTO SUNDAY)...
EXPECT CLOUD COVER AND LIGHT ONSHORE FLOW TO YIELD MUGGY OVERNIGHT
LOWS IN THE MID/UPPER 70S. EXPECT SCATTERED SHOWERS AND ISOLATED
THUNDERSTORMS TO DEVELOP MAINLY AFTER MIDNIGHT WITH FOCUS ACROSS WRN
1/3RD OF CWA. THIS WELL REFLECTED IN LCL WRF 4KM RUN. PATCHY FOG
WILL DEVELOP LATE WITH FOCUS ACROSS SRN ALA/GA AS NOTED IN SREF
PROGS. WILL UPDATE ZFP TO LOWER POPS 10 PCT 00Z-06Z AND ADD PATCHY
FOG FOR GA/ALA ZONES 06Z-12Z.

&&

.MARINE...MODERATE SOUTHWEST WINDS AND SEAS WILL CONTINUE OVER THE
NEXT FEW DAYS AS REMNANTS OF TD5 APPROACHES THE PANHANDLE WATERS
TONIGHT THROUGH SUNDAY NIGHT...THEN WEST TOWARD MOBILE AND NEW
ORLEANS MONDAY THROUGH TUESDAY.

&&

.AVIATION...ISOLATED TO SCT SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS WILL MOVE
FROM WEST TO EAST ACROSS THE TRI-STATE REGION THIS EVENING AND
POSSIBLY CONTINUE OVERNIGHT. IN THE VICINITY OF SHOWERS AND
STORMS...CEILINGS AND VISIBILITIES WILL BE MVFR TO LOCAL
IFR...ACCOMPANIED BY GUSTY SHIFTING WINDS AND BRIEF TORRENTIAL
RAINFALL. PATCHES OF FOG WILL ALSO DEVELOP BEFORE DAYBREAK...
ESPECIALLY IN AREAS THAT RECEIVED SIGNIFICANT RAINFALL. EXPECT A
REPEAT OF WIDESPREAD SHOWER AND THUNDERSTORM ACTIVITY AGAIN ON
SUNDAY.

&&

.TAE WATCHES/WARNINGS/ADVISORIES...
AL...NONE.
GA...NONE.
FL...NONE.
GM...NONE.
&&

$$

BLOCK/T BARRY
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2809. xcool
tornadodude yeah
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15705
Quoting BaltOCane:


funny how tastes change with our own personal economy. (ie, Raman is awesome!!!)


Indeed. Raman is the best thing since pizza. LOL.
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Quoting Tazmanian:





I am sending it off too jail for the night
Taz your funny.plus 1.
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Quoting MississippiWx:


I go to Southern Miss in Hattiesburg. Ever heard of Brett Favre? Yeah...haha.



oh ok, Purdue here.


ever heard of a guy named Drew Brees? (;
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2805. will45
Quoting Tazmanian:





I am sending it off too jail for the night



lol Taz
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Quoting tornadodude:


they all taste the same after awhile.... hehe

anyway, where do you go?


I go to Southern Miss in Hattiesburg. Ever heard of Brett Favre? Yeah...haha.
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Quoting btwntx08:

another college here incoming 3rd yr


Cool...Glad to know there are more people around my age in here.
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Quoting F4PHANTOM:
gfs has had enough; IT"S DRUNK





I am sending it off too jail for the night
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5093 Comments: 115799
Quoting MississippiWx:


You should! I guess my favorite cheap American beer is Coors, though I guess it's really not different than Bud or Miller. LOL.


they all taste the same after awhile.... hehe

anyway, where do you go?
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Quoting MississippiWx:


LOL...I know what you mean. Heck, I'm already struggling with those things.


funny how tastes change with our own personal economy. (ie, Raman is awesome!!!)
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Quoting tornadodude:



Im a sophomore haha and Ive never had it, a new one to try!


hey Scott!


You should! I guess my favorite cheap American beer is Coors, though I guess it's really not different than Bud or Miller. LOL.
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Quoting BaltOCane:


you will get to love those "cheap American Beers" when you have an apt of your own and gas and cable and etc 2 years later :)
Just saying... my avatar isn't for nothing...


LOL...I know what you mean. Heck, I'm already struggling with those things.
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The "dead season" about to get interesting here in the next week.Better be prepared everyone.Remember to have a plan,and to have your hurricane supplies.
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CMC takes ex-TD5 to 996mb.
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Quoting MississippiWx:


Haha same here...What year are you? I'm a senior in college. I've had Landshark and it's decent. If you've never had a Newcastle, I'd recommend that to you! Great beer. It's not one of the cheap American beers.


you will get to love those "cheap American Beers" when you have an apt of your own and gas and cable and etc 2 years later :)
Just saying... my avatar isn't for nothing...
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2791. xcool
btwntx08 . Canadian act wild
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15705
Quoting F4PHANTOM:
And the latest GFS seems to want to send the 2nd storm to the east coast. Last nights 00Z run had 1st & 2nd storms nearly side by side in the middle of the Atlantic. A lot can change in 384 Hrs. We will have to wait and see IF something forms , WHEN something forms and then get a handle on intensity and track.


Your absolutely correct.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24867
2787. will45
Quoting MississippiWx:


LOL...Seems like he has already had one too many (let's hope that's the problem).


Ha we will see it it sobers up on next run
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2786. xcool
hello matt :))))
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15705
I see he will just not go away.I thought admin took care of that problom.Anyway if the models are right.Well....watch out.
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Quoting MississippiWx:


Landshark?? You truly haven't lived yet. LOL.


haha college kid here :P
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Quoting will45:



dont send one to the GFS


LOL...Seems like he has already had one too many (let's hope that's the problem).
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Quoting btwntx08:
so wow we could have danielle(extd5),earl(pgi 30),fiona(off the se coast),and gaston(eastern carribean)


boy this would be a dead season if we had 7 named storms by the end of August *rolls eyes*
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Quoting tornadodude:


I'll take a Land Shark please!


Landshark?? You truly haven't lived yet. LOL.
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Quoting Hurricanes101:


you're right I did lol

its late


Lol...I feel ya! It's about time to cut some Zzzz's.
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2777. will45
Quoting Tazmanian:
beer for evere one am buying



dont send one to the GFS
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Quoting Tazmanian:
beer for evere one am buying


I'll take a Land Shark please!
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Have a feeling the next MJO forecast chart from the GFS will show all green for the Atlantic basin...
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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