Russian heat wave of 2010 due to natural causes: NOAA study

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:11 PM GMT on March 10, 2011

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The deadliest heat wave in human history--the 2010 Russian heat wave, which killed approximately 56,000 people last summer--was due to a natural atmospheric phenomenon often associated with weather extremes, according to a new NOAA study. The study, titled "Was There a Basis for Anticipating the 2010 Russian Heat Wave?" was accepted for publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, and used observations and computer climate models to evaluate the possible roles of natural and human-caused climate influences on the severity of the heat wave.


Figure 1. Daily Moscow temperature record from November 1 2009 to October 31 2010. Red and blue shaded areas represent departures from the long-term average (smooth curve) in Moscow. Temperatures significantly above the long-term average scorched Moscow for much of July and August. Image credit: NOAA.

Here's the body of the NOAA Press Release on the study:

"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, deputy director of research at NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory, Physical Science Division and a fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). "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°F scorched western Russia and surrounding areas from July through mid-August, 2010. In Moscow, the long-term daily average temperatures for July range from 65-67°F; in 2010, daily average July temperatures soared up to 87°. 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, a research meteorologist, also from ESRL.

Dole 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 the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado in Boulder--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 1880-2009, 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.

Authors of the new paper, Was There a Basis for Anticipating the 2010 Russian Heat Wave? are Randall Dole1, Martin Hoerling1, Judith Perlwitz2, Jon Eischeid2, Philip Pegion2, Tao Zhang2, Xiao-Wei Quan2, Taiyi Xu2, and Donald Murray2. The team is part of a NOAA effort to better understand the underlying causes of high-impact weather and climate events, with the ultimate goal of better anticipating them.

NOAA Climate Attribution: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/csi/



Figure 2. Smoke from fires in Russia on August 4, 2010 covered an area over 3,000 km (1860 miles) across. If the smoke were in the United States, it would have extended from San Francisco to Chicago. Visibility in Moscow dropped to 20 meters (0.01 miles) on August 4, and health officials warned that everyone, including healthy people, needed to take preventative measures such as staying indoors or wearing a mask outdoors. Image credit: NASA.

Commentary
Climate change has fundamentally altered Earth's atmosphere in significant ways; the additional heat and moisture in the atmosphere alters global sea surface temperature and atmospheric circulation patterns, making it difficult to disentangle to what degree an extreme weather event may be natural. The new NOAA attribution study on the Russian Heat Wave of 2010 is a reminder that the atmosphere is capable of generating extreme events on its own, without the aid of climate change. Attribution studies are difficult and take many months or years to complete. When an extreme weather event such as a great flood or deadly heat wave occurs, all we can say at the time is that climate change is loading the dice in favor of such extreme events. At the time of the Russian heat wave, I suspected that human-caused climate change was likely a significant factor, since a study of the world's previous deadliest heat wave, the 2003 European heat wave (Stott et al., 2004), found that human-caused climate change had increased the odds of that event occurring by a factor of four.

An important question to ask is if this type of natural atmospheric blocking event--where the jet stream gets "stuck" in particular contorted shape that contributes to extreme weather events--will increase or decrease in a future warmer climate. I asked climate modeling expert Dr. Ricky Rood, who writes our Climate Change blog, what the models say. His view was, "the physical basis, process, and cause and effect of blocking events are poorly understood in theory and observations and less well understood in models. It is very difficult problem, where the state-of-the-art understanding is low." So, we don't really know what will happen to blocking events in the future climate. Barnes and Hartman (2010) found that the computer models used in the 2007 [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report generally showed a decrease in the frequency of blocking events in a future climate. This occurs because the jet stream moves poleward in a future warming climate, and the jet stream is less prone to getting "stuck" in a blocking event when it is closer to the pole. The paper summarizes previous studies on the subject thusly: "Previous studies have found evidence for blocking frequency to decrease with global warming, although they disagree on whether the duration of extreme blocking events will increase or decrease [Sillmann and Croci-Maspoli, 2009; Matsueda et al., 2009]." So, the models give us reason to hope that blocking events leading to extreme weather will decrease in the future, though the uncertainty in this prediction is high. However, the climate models used in 2010 Russian heat wave study showed a rapidly increasing risk of heat waves in western Russia, from less than one percent in 2010, to 10 percent or more by the end of this century. The authors conclude that warming attributable to increasing greenhouse gas concentrations "is very likely to produce more frequent and extreme heat waves later this century," a central finding of the 2007 IPCC report.

References
Barnes, E.A., and D.L., Hartmann, 2010, "Influence of eddy-driven jet latitude on North Atlantic jet persistence and
blocking frequency in CMIP3 integrations", GRL 37, L23802, doi:10.1029/2010GL045700, 2010

Stott, P.A. , D.A. Stone, and M.R. Allen, 2004: Human Contribution to the European heat wave of 2003. Nature, 432(7017), 610-614

I'll have a new post on Saturday at the latest.

Jeff Masters

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Surf... You forgot SQUAWK!!!!:)
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Quoting WeatherWx:
Everything is due to global warming folks. Even the sun is due to global warming.

EXACTLY! If we stop global warming, we won't have to worry about all of the negative impacts of the sun, like skin cancer, sunburns, your car being really hot inside during July, or high electricity use in the summer due to a need for AC in your house.

Get rid of global warming, the sun goes away, and so do all of your problems!
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Quoting NRAamy:
They also found that western Russia has not experienced significant climate warming during the summer season over the 130 years from 1880-2009,


they must have made a deal with the ancient aliens.... damn those ruskies....


Be careful what think, the overlords are testy.

Santa Barbara Weather: sunny and boring all week.
At least I can go up the coastal ridge and
watch for MU folk (jams).


Beautiful weather for our mid week and it looks to hold for the most part today. Although we are seeing a little bit of fog along the central coast and the offshore winds are beginning to weaken. We will likely see a little cooling today, especially to the north of Santa Barbara. Look for highs today to be mostly in the upper 60's and lower 70's. But, some areas to the south could easily reach back up in to the upper 70's and even low 80's. Mild to moderate onshore winds will begin to blow from the ocean today and a mild sundowner could be experienced tonight along the South Coast.

Cooler temperatures and more marine layer fog is expected as we head in to the weekend as a series of Pacific storms move in to Northern California. We are expecting things to remain dry, but a sprinkle or two is possible by early next week especially for our northern areas. However, the overall flow will be onshore or from the ocean toward the land. this will keep the marine layer and partly cloudy skies in our forecast and temperatures will cool as well.

Story Created: Dec 16, 2005 at 9:47 AM PST

Link

However last week:




I took this picture one week ago on Sat. the 30th of February. I took this picture from the Santa Barbara harbor when this cloud dumped snow in Santa Barbara for the first time in many years. I hope that you can use them Thank you Jaime Herrera


Link

Ancient and Justified.
Member Since: January 27, 2009 Posts: 24 Comments: 1081
83.

Lets put things into context, and remove a bit of the sensationalism.

First off, wind and solar are not the ONLY ways to generate "green" power. The UK is at the forefront of technology and development of tidal power, which works every day, 24/7. There is also geothermal power and this AMAZING thing called conservation.

Secondly, I did some research, I've attached a link to his actual quotes. Please note that nothing is mentioned about some quasi-government agency deciding who gets electricity and who doesn't. The ONLY place I can find that is on OPINION websites, whom all seem to cite each other as sources.

So, don't believe everything you read on the internet.
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Notes on 'Post 83'
There are about 60 million people in the UK, (Cold Damp Island, CDI), I used to be one of them a long time ago,

"20% the population of the USA, I remember around April/May 1984 a period when we were working there, of some 40 days more or less when we never saw the sun ever as a dim glow through the leaden grey skies, the wind didn't blow much and there were often mists,plus lots of rain.
Their power consumption must be massive now and anything renewable is probably suspect but they do have a lot of 'Coal'.

I would like to see how much of their electric power requirements could really come from wind and solar on a bad winters day? People I know there are still shivering in one room of their house's as they cant afford to put the heating on!

A Swedish chap who was working with us was amazed at the place,and said,'don't you people believe it gets cold in this country?'
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Quoting cat5hurricane:

Of those climate scientists you are referring to, do a high percentage of them publish their findings and research on climateprogress?

100% of the climatologists to whom I refer publish in credible peer-reviewed scientific journals. Having said that, I'm quite certain some have been quoted, cited, or referenced on the most excellent Climate Progress webiste, and a few may have even contributed guest material from time to time. But, as you undoubtedly know, Climate Progress isn't peer-reviewed. Out of curiosity, why do you ask (twice)?
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13611
Duh
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Quoting jasoniscoolman2011:
Northeast Should Prepare for Serious Flooding
The flooding situation over the Northeast is going from bad to worse.

This past weekend, a system tapping copious moisture sources from the Gulf and Atlantic dropped tremendous amounts of rain over the region. There is no rest for the water-logged; a new storm is targeting the Northeast yet again and this time it might very well dump even more rain than its predecessor.

We have outlined three problems that will all aid in the development of flash flooding and river flooding across the soggy region this Thursday and Friday.

If you live in the Northeast, you should prepare now for what will be a very serious (and in some cases could be life-threatening) situation if proper safety precautions are not taken in advance.

VERY BAD NEWS HERE!! WATCH OUT FOR BIG TIME FLOOODING FOR THE NOTHEAST MAYBE UP TO 6 INCHES OF RAIN!!

I heard on the radio this morning that the governor of New Jersey has declared a state of emergency in order to activate the emergency services early. I hope this pre-planning step helps to keep all safe and limit property damage.

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Quoting DentalPainDMD:
I did not write this...but it speaks to rising food prices and global unrest due to inflation not weather events. Although some price increase maybe due to climate change.

The conflict in North Africa was a predictable outcome of the US Monetary Policy of Quantitative Easing. It is not plausible that the US Federal Reserve, as the manager of the world's Reserve Currency, did not fully recognize the global ramifications of such monetary inflation actions well in advance. Quantitative Easing like the Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) of the cold war era has had the same devastating pre-emptive impact on Libya.

There can also be little doubt that the bi-monthly meetings of the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) board of directors, which specifically meet to discuss coordinated monetary policy outcomes, did not consider this eventuality. The board of directors of this global power center includes all G7 Central Banks chiefs, with the conspicuous absence of a single member of the Arab League not receiving US military financial aid.

Our Process of Abstraction research methodology (shown below) has been signaling looming political conflict and social tensions for eighteen months. Our Tipping Points have proven once again to be surprisingly accurate predictors. Though Tunisia as an initial flash point was somewhat of a surprise, we knew it was going to soon emerge somewhere due to serious inflationary pressures injected into the global macro. As we will discuss, it is a direct result of the US policy of Quantitative Easing (QE) igniting global inflation in food and basic resources of survival. The social unrest this triggers is still in the early stages of what we call the "Age of Rage".

Very thought provoking and easily believed. I have no doubt that this is all possible, but what would be the end goal?


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Quoting overwash12:
What are the odds that all weather,climate, extreme weather anomalies are not a  natural variability ? 

    
That is a very valid and excellent question.

Natural anomalies do occur and all of the anomalies to date may be completely natural, but CO2 levels still play a part and what we see out there now can not be solely attributed to natural variability.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I did not write this...but it speaks to rising food prices and global unrest due to inflation not weather events. Although some price increase maybe due to climate change.

The conflict in North Africa was a predictable outcome of the US Monetary Policy of Quantitative Easing. It is not plausible that the US Federal Reserve, as the manager of the world's Reserve Currency, did not fully recognize the global ramifications of such monetary inflation actions well in advance. Quantitative Easing like the Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) of the cold war era has had the same devastating pre-emptive impact on Libya.

There can also be little doubt that the bi-monthly meetings of the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) board of directors, which specifically meet to discuss coordinated monetary policy outcomes, did not consider this eventuality. The board of directors of this global power center includes all G7 Central Banks chiefs, with the conspicuous absence of a single member of the Arab League not receiving US military financial aid.

Our Process of Abstraction research methodology (shown below) has been signaling looming political conflict and social tensions for eighteen months. Our Tipping Points have proven once again to be surprisingly accurate predictors. Though Tunisia as an initial flash point was somewhat of a surprise, we knew it was going to soon emerge somewhere due to serious inflationary pressures injected into the global macro. As we will discuss, it is a direct result of the US policy of Quantitative Easing (QE) igniting global inflation in food and basic resources of survival. The social unrest this triggers is still in the early stages of what we call the "Age of Rage".

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What are the odds that all weather,climate, extreme weather anomalies are not a  natural variability ?              
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Quoting hcubed:


You have to remember that NOAA also determined that the severe winter was due to natural variability, and couldn't be linked directly to Global Warming.

Two severe events, neither of which could be tied DIRECTLY to global warming.

What are the odds of that?

What are the odds of that? Increasingly higher, according to climate scientists.

But in the words of BTO: you ain't seen nuthin' yet...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13611
Quoting hcubed:


You have to remember that NOAA also determined that the severe winter was due to natural variability, and couldn't be linked directly to Global Warming.

Two severe events, neither of which could be tied DIRECTLY to global warming.

What are the odds of that?
UNPOSSIBLE!
(bear in mind, minions are not able to understand indirect long-term relationships)
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Quoting Neapolitan:
I see that the political ideologues are--quite predictably--quickly out in full force this morning given Dr. Masters' chosen subject matter. Shocker! ;-)

Anthony Watts, also predictably, loudly trumpeted this headline on his anti-science site yesterday, and his flocks of loyal denialists immediately took off to fly far and wide delivering the news to those breathlessly awaiting something--anything--that would validate their, er, "skepticism". You know, kinda like those winged monkeys from The Wizard Of Oz. Of course, dear little Anthony spent most time on the headline, and didn't devote much to the crux of the remainder of the story--that is, that while no particular extreme event can be directly blamed on warming, that warming makes things like this far more likely, as has already been seen. No surprise there, either; the status quo is to be enforced and maintained at all costs...

Excellent entry, Dr. Masters. Your hard work disseminating the truth about anthropogenic climate disruption is duly noted, and very much appreciated by the science-minded. IOW: thanks!!!


You have to remember that NOAA also determined that the severe winter was due to natural variability, and couldn't be linked directly to Global Warming.

Two severe events, neither of which could be tied DIRECTLY to global warming.

What are the odds of that?
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Quoting islander101010:
looking at it right now it has not yet
       The sea or the oil?
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73% chance of a major hurricane striking the east coast of the U.S. this upcoming season.   
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Quoting presslord:
OK...Who's in charge here?!?!?!


Hello Press,

Unless I totally lost my mind and that is possible.. didn't I wish you a Happy Birthday on FB this morning around 6am???

(I'm at work now and FB is blocked at work)

So want to say Happy Birthday to You,
here on WU also!
Have a great day.

Gams
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Quoting cat5hurricane:
Jeffs713...did you REALLY get it or were you just hinting that you did. Cuz it's okay.

Anyway, forget it.

Back to weather. Do you remember the heat wave in Chicago in 1995? That was not nearly as deadly, but still a bad one.

Oh, I got it. Just had work to do. ;)

And actually, I do remember that heat wave. I was a youngun' then, so I remember asking my dad "why don't they just turn on the AC if its so hot?"

All he could do is laugh and try to explain why they don't have AC there.
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Quoting cat5hurricane:

And yes, we MUST know where it came from of course. Wouldn't want Anthony Watts to infest our palace.

LOL
Quoting jeffs713:

What about his legions of minions?
Quoting cat5hurricane:

Do you think for one minute I wouldn't include them? Throw them into the pot as well.

Quoting cat5hurricane:

Set, spike!

Been waitin' for ya. Take it away there, chief...! :-)

So do minions go best with a beef-based stew, or chicken-based stew? And what kind of veggies would go best in the pot?
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Proud to serve!!!
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Quoting atmoaggie:
So, the models give us reason to hope that blocking events leading to extreme weather will decrease in the future, though the uncertainty in this prediction is high. However, the climate models used in 2010 Russian heat wave study showed a rapidly increasing risk of heat waves in western Russia, from less than one percent in 2010, to 10 percent or more by the end of this century.

So...
We simply don't know? Seems as though this has similarities to the constantly moving target of more/less frequent and more/less intense hurricane prognostications.


Exactly, we don't know.
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:)

you make my day....

:)
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Quoting overwash12:
 Oil prices going back down....        Sea level rising rapidly.......  
looking at it right now it has not yet
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Quoting NRAamy:
They also found that western Russia has not experienced significant climate warming during the summer season over the 130 years from 1880-2009,


they must have made a deal with the ancient aliens.... damn those ruskies....



LOL
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Weather certainly does some interesting things!

The squall line from yesterday completely fell apart as I though it would, however what is very interesting is that a second round of deep convection redeveloped ahead of the cold front. I woke up at 6:30 to torrential rain, wind gusts to about 45 mph, and a very impressive light show! Good thing is there wasn't any severe weather around here, just good old enjoyable strong storms!

Unfortunately for my rain gauge, the hole where all the rain slides down into the rain funnel had a very thick spider web built over it and I didn't know till this morning. It got covered completely with tree pollen from the huge oak forest behind my house. That being said unfortunately the rain gauge never recorded how much rain we had. I estimate about 1.50, with about 1.20 falling in the first 10 minutes with the line of convection. The rest fell as steady stratiform rain behind the line.


I gotta say, I didn't expect the convection that redeveloped to be so organized and heavy, but I'm sure thankful it did! We sure needed it here too, everyone got a good soaking. Yet the storms weren't too strong, so no severe weather.
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Quoting presslord:


I'm not worthy...

it easy no matter what anyone ask you
you get to cop out
and say its global warmings fault
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54858
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
you want the job


I'm not worthy...
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Quoting presslord:
OK...Who's in charge here?!?!?!
you want the job
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 175 Comments: 54858
Quoting cat5hurricane:

Do you think for one minute I wouldn't include them? Throw them into the pot as well.

Oh, the places I could run with that comment...
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OK...Who's in charge here?!?!?!
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 Oil prices going back down....        Sea level rising rapidly.......  
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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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