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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Lowest pressures in the vicinity of ex-05L are ranging between 1010-1009mb. Click the image for a larger view.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Patrap:
The Fishing is good in Lake P in mid-August.

TD-5 must know dat.
Best blue crabs on the planet come out of Lake P in August (although July wasn't bad either). Hopefully TD-5 won't stir 'em up too bad...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Drakoen:
You need a Bachelors degree to work for the NHC.
You can be an intern through programs such as Hollings.
got a BS already. Thanks!
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Quoting btwntx08:

gfs does now


oh wow...how strong is that showing? I realize it is still too early for anyting written in stone but I will definitely keep an eye out, since that is in my neck of the woods....

That physic person on here said TX was in the clear until at least mid September I believe.

hmmmmm, will they be right or wrong, that is the question.....
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Quoting scott39:
supply and demand right! LOL

Yep.
And the offer does not apply to residents of New Orleans.
They are in Competition with me these days...
In fact, I heard they were planning to GIVE THIERS AWAY FREE !!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting NCHurricane2009:
Lets see here,

Just before TD 5 made landfall, a shortwave upper trough over the central US pushed the steering deep-layered ridge southeastward and also weakened it. Because the steering ridge weakened, it has been meandering about, waiting for the next shortwave upper trough. Looks like this afternoon, remnant low of TD 5 is beginning to move NEward into S Alabama and S Mississippi, moving in advance of the next upper trough. But I guess some models see it dissipating soon, while others see it missing this upper trough too, and meandering about southward and then westward across the northern Gulf while the next ridge builds in to the northwest.

It'll be interesting if TD 5's remnant does this. Not unheard of. Happened with Allison 2001, and Bertha 2002. Not sold on this happening yet though.
Makes you wonder if it might lose its identity before it gets back in the gulf. Have seen stranger things though also.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
367. Patrap 1:09 PM CDT on August 13, 2010I'm...err...saturated. Got caught up on the bridge :(
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368. xcool
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
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Quoting pottery:

That will be $100:00.
You did not read the fine print LOL
supply and demand right! LOL
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Quoting StormChaser81:


Holy Long Post Batman, Robin cant read that fast.


LOL!! I second that one...
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Have a good day, all. :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Lets see here,

Just before TD 5 made landfall, a shortwave upper trough over the central US pushed the steering deep-layered ridge southeastward and also weakened it. Because the steering ridge weakened, it has been meandering about, waiting for the next shortwave upper trough. Looks like this afternoon, remnant low of TD 5 is beginning to move NEward into S Alabama and S Mississippi, moving in advance of the next upper trough. But I guess some models see it dissipating soon, while others see it missing this upper trough too, and meandering about southward and then westward across the northern Gulf while the next ridge builds in to the northwest.

It'll be interesting if TD 5's remnant does this. Not unheard of. Happened with Allison 2001, and Bertha 2002. Not sold on this happening yet though.
Member Since: September 15, 2009 Posts: 539 Comments: 3712
I wont drop any names but I wouldn't be surprised if some of the students that blog on here were writing TWO's in a few years for the NHC. Or forecasting for the public via the Media....JMO
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Quoting scott39:
Thats cheap--- I will take 100 of them, when the heat Index is 115 degrees outside!

That will be $100:00.
You did not read the fine print LOL
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Quoting Patrap:
The Fishing is good in Lake P in mid-August.

TD-5 must know dat.
maybe find us some groupers and snappers
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Quoting pottery:
FOR SALE---
Many clouds, some slightly used, conversing in Various Dialects.
All recently Re-Hydrated and ready to go!
Some Pregnant with Potential.
Special Offer For A Limited Time Only
While Stocks Last.

Send $1:00 and Pre-Addressed envelope.
Thats cheap--- I will take 100 of them, when the heat Index is 115 degrees outside!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Patrap:
The Fishing is good in Lake p in mid-August.

TD-5 must know dat.


So is that why it's in Alabama ?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The Fishing is good in Lake P in mid-August.

TD-5 must know dat.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
FOR SALE---
Many clouds, some slightly used, conversing in Various Dialects.
All recently Re-Hydrated and ready to go!
Some Pregnant with Potential.
Special Offer For A Limited Time Only
While Stocks Last.

Send $1:00 and Pre-Addressed envelope.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
It seems ex-TD5 Low is close enough to the Gulf to sustain it, with conditions aloft improving. It has looked better to me since it got on land than it ever did over water.
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You need a Bachelors degree to work for the NHC.
You can be an intern through programs such as Hollings.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting NCHurricane2009:


Yeah, I noticed that too. Lets throw a party XD !



Are you referring to the remnant low of TD5 in that case?
Yes, Whats your thoughts on strength and direction once in the GOM?
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Quoting donna1960ruled:
My wife just e-mailed a Yahoo article on how Belize is the best place in the world to retire to....300/month for seaside accomodations, 50./ month health insurance, etc. Does anyone remember Hurricane Hattie?
Belize gets flattenned like clockwork every 10 or 20 years.


I see those articles appear from time to time. You might be able to live like that in Belize, as long as you lived like a true Belizean. That means, limited power useage, no A/C, water collected by cistern, and a lot of stewed curry chicken with beans and rice, and did not live on any of the barrier islands in a very small house, without a car.

I have owned property on one of the cayes for over a decade, so I have a pretty fair idea. It is a beaautiful place for sure....

If you want a cost comparison for living inland, ask Belizeit, sometime when he is on. He lives in San Ignacio up by the border with Guatamela.
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Quoting NCHurricane2009:


Yeah, I noticed that too. Lets throw a party XD !



Are you referring to the remnant low of TD5 in that case?
LOL!
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Looks like the NHC has implemented latitude and longitude points into their TWO graphic.



Yeah, I noticed that too. Lets throw a party XD !

Quoting scott39:
No the one that may remerge back over the N GOM?


Are you referring to the remnant low of TD5 in that case?
Member Since: September 15, 2009 Posts: 539 Comments: 3712
Quoting Waltanater:
How does one get a job at the NHC in Miami?


You might need to start with a Ph.d candidate research internship if you want a job on the forecasting and analysis side; don't know what the requirements are for answering phones or janitorial services.......... :)
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Quoting tkeith:
323. Drakoen 12:51 PM CDT on August 13, 2010

I dont see any models that aren't showin this Low to get back in the Gulf...Even Bastardi is bullish on this forecast. Must be something to it...


Well the NOGAPS, fwiw, doesn't have this getting back into the GOM but the consensus among the other models including the ensembles is for the low to get back into the good with a good chance of intensification will model runs trending slightly deeper with the system.
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Impressive outflow shown on the GFS (12z, 96 hours below) in the upper levels, probably one of the reasons that it ramps it up quite quickly.

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Hi all,

just checking in for the day. There was a model yesterday suggesting the redevelopment of TD5 and then having it go towards the Houston,TX area. Any still hinting at this? Thanks in advance....
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HPC

...REMNANTS OF FORMER T.D. FIVE...

PRELIMINARY PREFERENCE: BLEND OF THE 12Z/00Z UKMET AND 00Z CMC/EC
ENS MEAN

INITIALLY...GOOD CONTINUITY EXISTS WITH THE REMNANT UPPER-LEVEL
VORT MAX LOCATED ACROSS THE CENTRAL GULF COAST. THROUGH SAT
MORNING...A SLOW NORTHEASTWARD PUSH IS EXPECTED WITH SOME
DISSIPATION POSSIBLE. WHILE THE EVOLUTION VARIES FROM RUN TO RUN
WITH THE NAM...THE LAST THREE VERSIONS INDICATE AN AREA OF PVA
NEAR THE WESTERN EDGE OF THE FL PANHANDLE BY THE LATTER PORTION OF
THE WEEKEND. THEREAFTER...THE SYSTEM WILL DRIFT WESTWARD BACK TO
ITS ORIGINAL POSITION NEAR LAKE PONTCHARTRAIN. THE EXTENT TO WHICH
THE UPPER FEATURE INTENSIFIES TOWARD THE END OF THE SHORT-RANGE
PERIOD IS STILL UP IN THE AIR. HOWEVER...ONE NOTABLE TREND WITH
THE 12Z NAM IS A 2 TO 4 MB DEEPENING WITH THE SFC LOW BY EARLY
MON.

THE 12Z/06Z RUNS OF THE GFS APPEAR TO BE IN GOOD AGREEMENT WITH
THE 12Z NAM BRINGING THE UPPER VORT MAX TOWARD THE FL PANHANDLE BY
EARLY SUN MORNING. THIS IS IN STARK CONTRAST TO THE 00Z GFS WHICH
BROUGHT THE SYSTEM FARTHER INLAND INTO INTERIOR GA. AS THE
DISTURBANCE REACHES THE NORTHERN GULF OF MEXICO...THE NEW GFS
FORECASTS FURTHER INTENSIFICATION AT THE SFC AND ALOFT.
THIS AGAIN
MATCHES THE 12Z NAM...ALTHOUGH THE TWO MODELS ARE DIFFERENT IN
PLACEMENT BY 17/0000Z.

OVER THE COURSE OF THE NEXT THREE DAYS...ALL OF THE OPERATIONAL
AND ENSEMBLE MODEL GUIDANCE INDICATE SIMILAR SCENARIOS THAT WERE
FORECAST BY THE 12Z NAM/GFS.
THERE IS QUITE A BIT VARIABILITY ONCE
THE SYSTEM REACHES THE NE GULF OF MEXICO. BY MON MORNING...THE
WESTERN SIDE OF THE SPREAD CONTAINS THE CAMP OF THE 12Z
NAM/GFS...06Z GEFS MEAN...AND 03Z SREF MEAN. MEANWHILE...TO THE
EAST...THE 00Z CMC/UKMET/EC ENS MEAN ARE CLUSTERED NEAR ONE
ANOTHER...WITH THE 00Z ECMWF JUST TO THE SOUTH. WITH THE NEWER 12Z
GUIDANCE COMING IN...THE 12Z UKMET HAS HELD ITS CONTINUITY...WHILE
THE 12Z CMC SEEMS TO DIVERGE FROM THE OTHER MODELS...INCLUDING ITS
PREDECESSOR RUN BY LATE MON. THEREFORE...GIVEN THE CLUSTERING OF
THE 00Z GUIDANCE APPEARS MORE IN LINE WITH THE HPC/TPC MEDIUM
RANGE CONFERENCE CALL...THIS SOLN WILL BE RECOMMENDED.


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The enviroment in the N GOM must be good in 72 hours to possibly spin something up so fast.
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Quoting Drakoen:


West or northwest
west or nortwest would depend mostly on the setup of the high or are there other factors that will move it. Do you think it will actually make it back into the gulf and be anything more that a low pressure area??
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336. xcool
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
323. Drakoen 12:51 PM CDT on August 13, 2010

I dont see any models that aren't showin this Low to get back in the Gulf...Even Bastardi is bullish on this forecast. Must be something to it...
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
maybe walk in the front door and summit your app

lol


There is an app for that so you don't even have to walk in the front door.
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...and it's "submit" not "summit" LOL
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I'm thinking that there may be a good possibility for Tropical Storm Danielle in the next 5 days from ex-05L.
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Quoting divdog:
Is it the high pressure to the north of the system that would push it to the south and eventually to the west??


West or northwest
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
maybe walk in the front door and summit your app

lol
They don't take apps on walk-ins! Neither to they tell you anything else! Anyone have any REAL answers on how to obtain employment with them?
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Quoting btwntx08:

extd5??
yes
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Quoting Drakoen:
CMC 12z:

Is it the high pressure to the north of the system that would push it to the south and eventually to the west??
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Quoting NCHurricane2009:


Are you referring to the L in the Caribbean?
No the one that may remerge back over the N GOM?
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Quoting MississippiWx:
The SW Caribbean system should be watched over the next day or two. The NAM is the only model I've seen developing the system, but I can see why it would considering the system has an upper-level anticyclone over it and should head in a more north-westerly direction to stay over water longer.

Just a side note, the NAM nailed TD5 36 hours out. It had TD5 opening up into a trof and moving to around the Panhandle before drifting west along the coast. Just saying...It's something to watch during our lull.
Yep we should always be on the lookout for some mischief close to home. Like you said, somethin to look at during the lull.
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About

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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