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 fallinstorms:
yes, all my predictions are right once again!




I do not recall any prediction from you yesterday with regard to a rather large pertubation developing in the SW Caribbean today..............What are you talking about?
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iTS oK FLOOD....Little Feat is a damn good band....Besides....only during ACTIVE periods are the rules Strictly enforced.....
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12z GFS ensemble

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Quoting fallinstorms:
yes, all my predictions are right once again!





LOL



how about no
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115072
Tropics really starting to tease us closer to home this afternoon......(with no model support I might add for the interesting looking area in the Caribbean). Not too excited about it at HPC:

TROPICAL DISCUSSION - INTERNATIONAL DESKS
NWS HYDROMETEOROLOGICAL PREDICTION CENTER CAMP SPRINGS MD
244 PM EDT FRI AUG 13 2010

AN EASTERLY WAVE ALONG 78W AND A PERTURBATION ALONG 83W/84W ARE INTERACTING WITH THE TUTT LOW OVER THE NORTHWEST CARIBBEAN AND THE
EASTERN PACIFIC ITCZ. THE LATTER SUSTAINS A LOW ALONG THE ITCZ THAT IS MOVING TO THE WEST JUST SOUTH OF 10N. ORGANIZED DEEP CONVECTION IS BUILDING ALONG THE CARIBBEAN WATERS JUST NORTH OF PANAMA INTO COSTA RICA/SOUTHERN NICARAGUA...WITH ACTIVITY FORECAST
TO BUILD NORTH ALONG THE WEST COAST OF NICARAGUA TO EL SALVADOR/GULF OF FONSECA-SOUTHERN HONDURAS THROUGH 36-48 HRS.
ACTIVITY IN THIS AREA IS TO THEN SUSTAIN RAINFALL AMOUNTS OF 20-30MM/DAY AND MAXIMA OF 60-100MM/DAY. MCS FORMATION IS POSSIBLE
DURING THE MORNING HOURS ON THE GULF OF FONSECA/OFF THE COAST OF EL SALVADOR...WITH HEAVY RAINFALL AMOUNTS TO DEVELOP IN
ASSOCIATION WITH THIS FEATURE. THE CONVECTION WILL THEN EXPAND INTO SOUTHERN GUATEMALA/CHIAPAS MEXICO WITH ACCUMULATION OF
20-40MM/DAY AND MAXIMA OF 60-80MM/DAY.

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ECMWF 12z really ramps up the CV wave. 240 hours out..
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Quoting Tazmanian:





WE DONT NEED TOO KEEP SEEING THAT IT BE COMEING VARY ANNYOING ONE TIME OLNY PER BLOG UPDATE IS WHEN YOU CAN POST IT


IS YOUR CAPS LOck key broken?
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Afternoon all.

This is a repost from the last blog. Please feel free to participate!

Legends of the Wunderground Poll

If you want to participate in the poll, you can go to my blog and post your response. I'm going to be in and out today, so it'll be a lot easier for me to collate all the responses that way. I put guidelines below, and I've repeated them in my blog post. I'd be grateful if someone would cut and paste this to the new blog, which will likely come out while I'm in a meeting this a.m.

--------------------------------

Legends of the Wunderground nominees in cronological order

1. Katrina 2005 "StormTop said it would hit NOLA"
2. Rita 2005 "I tried to evacuate"
3. Wilma 2005 "the definitive pinhole eye"
4. Chris 2006 "Sheared again. . . Naturally"
5. Ernesto 2006 "yes it is; no it's not"
6. Dean 2007 "is that cat 5 landfall????"
7. Felix 2007 "graupel in the guts"
8. Humberto 2007? "Talk about explosive cyclogenesis"
9. Karen 2007 "never say die"
10. Dolly 2008 "no closed low"
11. Fay 2008 "Florida vacation"
12. Gustav 2008 "I can fake u out"
13. Ike 2008 aka "Ike Jr."; "Beeline for South Florida! ... NOT"
14. Portlight 2008 formation "We are the Blog"
15. Marco 2008 "World's Smallest 'cane or Largest Tornado"

Now we are ready to vote on the top five legends of the blog. The main requirement is that each event has to have entered the "history" or collective memory of the blog as a notable event. This is beyond simply the fact that a storm was notable for breaking a record or causing a lot of damage.

List your top FIVE picks in order from most legendary to least. If you wish, you can add a comment that explains why you feel your top pick is the most legendary blog event.

The poll will close at midnight EDT [0400 UTC] and I will post results tomorrow morning.

Have fun!

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Quoting DarIvy959810:
Today is the 6 anniversary of Hurricane Charley, the strongest hurricane so far to affect the U.S

You mean aside from Hugo, Camille, Andrew, and a host of other major storms?
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Quoting DestinJeff:
I won't be around much this weekend ... plan to go to the magical, mythical place where the weather happens. Some know it as Outside.

Before I go, let me pass on something handed down to me through the generations regarding how hurricane activity can be expected to play out in a typical season.



My analysis suggests that heed the signals in the peaks. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!





WE DONT NEED TOO KEEP SEEING THAT IT BE COMEING VARY ANNYOING ONE TIME OLNY PER BLOG UPDATE IS WHEN YOU CAN POST IT
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115072
Quoting DarIvy959810:
Today is the 6 anniversary of Hurricane Charley, the strongest hurricane so far to affect the U.S


Huh??
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Quoting DestinJeff:
I won't be around much this weekend ... plan to go to the magical, mythical place where the weather happens. Some know it as Outside.

Before I go, let me pass on something handed down to me through the generations regarding how hurricane activity can be expected to play out in a typical season.



My analysis suggests that heed the signals in the peaks. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
What is this "outside" you speak of? Is it hot in the summer and cooler in the winter? Is it that place I spend several hours per week trying to coax green and healthy growth out of the plants outside?
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Quoting DarIvy959810:
Today is the 6 anniversary of Hurricane Charley, the strongest hurricane so far to affect the U.S


????
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Today is the 6 anniversary of Hurricane Charley, the strongest hurricane so far to affect the U.S
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Quoting pcola57:


Man i take that back...will double check that next time!! Sorry NH hurricain2009 !!


What, LOL?
Member Since: September 15, 2009 Posts: 472 Comments: 3668
with our SW Carib AOI now has vort at 850 and 700 and developing it as well a good upper level anticyclone on top has convergence and divergence steering shows this one to be a slow mover and to the WNW we need to watch this some more if this continues more we could have three storms by next week
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 11947
Quoting txwxnut2:
Anyone paying attention to the persistant cloudiness/storms in the Southern Carribean?


I am, and I am wondering why on earth the hurricane center is not mentioning it in the outlook.
Member Since: September 15, 2009 Posts: 472 Comments: 3668
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borrrrriiinnnngggg...zzzzz...zzzzz..
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Looks like both spots that what I am watching is favorable for development.. I mean the Northern GOMEX and Southern Caribbean..
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FWIW

Montana snow and Hurricane landfall connection??

Link
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Channel 6 - Beaumont,TX

Plenty of tropical moisture in place for scattered thunderstorms through Saturday. Only isolated Sunday as slightly drier air moves in. By the middle of next week the upper level remains of TD 5 moving south into the NE Gulf then back to the west.
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Quoting pcola57:


Man i take that back...will double check that next time!! Sorry NH hurricain2009 !!


np man we all do it
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439. xcool
FLPandhandleJG .welcome.
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438. xcool
ECMWF NAM GFS CMC model support
XTD5 .COME BACK
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15669
Quoting xcool:
FLPandhandleJG .Monday or Tuesday,
Okay thanks.. So does anyone think 05L will still be alive over land or that long or??
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Quoting will45:
428. pcola57 2:58 PM EDT on August 13, 2010

you read his handle wrong look again


Man i take that back...will double check that next time!! Sorry NH hurricain2009 !!
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Just a slight turning as to yet on the MIMIC-TPW for the area in the SW Caribbean. Of course that could change.


Link
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434. IKE
12Z ECMWF.....has backed off some on redevelopment of TD5. Stronger on the eastern ATL system.

Eastern ATL view...Link
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428. pcola57 2:58 PM EDT on August 13, 2010

you read his handle wrong look again
Member Since: July 18, 2009 Posts: 1 Comments: 994
432. xcool
FLPandhandleJG .Monday or Tuesday,
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15669
SW Carib AOI COC near 12.5N 77.5W
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Quoting xcool:
da XXXtd5

Ya I wonder when and if it does head toward GOMEX again..
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Quoting NCHurricane2009:


To elaborate, the remnant low of TD 5 is still in "tropical" mode if you will. Its nowhere near any upper troughs to become extratropical or somewhat extratropical and strengthen that way. Its beneath an upper anticyclone as a typical warm core tropical cyclone (tropical cyclone) is structured. A tropical low uses low-level convergence and upper divergence from its upper anticyclone to systematically rise warm, moist air and condense them into clouds, and those clouds release latent heat. A NET ACCUMULATION OF LATENT HEAT intensifies the warm core, with surface pressures falling and the anticyclone above strengthening, and the vicious cycle continues.

The reality of the matter is that there may not be enough moisture over land to support the immense convection needed for latent heat ACCUMULATION. Yeah, there are clouds, but the latent heat produced in the circulation may not be enough to strengthen it (there may be more heat dissipation to the surroundings than accumulation).

i was so wrong here...(kicks self over and over till he likes it)
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Quoting txwxnut2:
Anyone paying attention to the persistant cloudiness/storms in the Southern Carribean?

Ya i saw this last night.. Last that I know that it doesnt have MLC or anything.. Just storms blowing up but yes it has to be watch b/c i think one model has it developing then die.. But I would have to check the models and all.. To make sure if it hasnt changed yet.. But yeah it looks impressive with T'storms tho..
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yes txwxnut2 I am watching very very closely
Member Since: June 13, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 11947
425. xcool



CV STORMS.
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15669

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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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