The Great Russian Heat Wave of July 2010

By: Dr. Rob Carver , 10:53 PM GMT on August 05, 2010

The July 2010 heat wave for western Russia, including Moscow, is one of the most impressive heat waves I've ever seen. I thought it would be instructive to look at the meterological conditions to understand what creates heat waves and droughts.

Fig. 1 Meteorological history of July 2010 for Sheremetyevo International Airport, Moscow, Russia.

Theory of Drought
The most immediate cause for drought/heat waves are upper-level high pressure systems, colloquially known as "ridges". Since winds move from high to low pressure, this means winds are moving away from upper-level winds. In response, air starts descending beneath the ridge, this is known as subsidence In the free atmosphere, as a parcel of air descends, it starts to warm, decreasing the relative humidity, and making it more difficult for clouds to form. The apocryphal quote from Bill Gray about this is, "Up moist, down dry". So with large amounts of subsidence under the ridge, there aren't as many clouds to shield the ground from the sun. So the ground warms up, which warms the air.

Now positive feedback loops start to form. The first is that increasing the air temperature strengthens the upper-level ridge, which warms the ground more. Another loop is that with no clouds, there is no rain, which causes the ground to dry out. As the ground dries out, it warms more quickly for the same amount of sunlight. Also as the ground dries out, moisture near the surface drops, which makes precipitation less likely and further dries out the surface continuing the heat wave/drought.

Short of waiting for the seasons to change, the best way to get rid of a heat wave is for a change in the upper-level circulation to help push the ridge away from the drought circulation. If the heat wave is relatively young (less than 2 weeks old), a passing tropical cyclone can provide enough moisture to wet the ground and break the soil moisture feedback loop.

Before we can know what's not normal, we have to know what's normal first.
To calculate the normals, 30-year climatologies of different meterological quantities (i.e. soil moisture and temperature, surface temperature, and 500 mb heights) were calculated using data from the Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR) (NOMADS data repository). Here is a description how a reanalysis works. CFSR is notable because it is the first reanalysis to use a coupled atmosphere-ocean model. As a result, CFSR has physically consistent estimates of the conditions of the atmosphere, ocean, and land. CFSR has data from 1979 (When polar-orbiting satellites became able to estimate vertical profiles of temperature) to 2009 (NCEP expects to start releasing 2010 data soon.)

Data for June and July 2010 were taken from the GFS Data Assimilation System (GDAS). GDAS combines observations with short-term forecasts (3-6 hours) from the GFS to provide initial conditions for the next model run of the GFS (i.e., the 6Z run makes the 12Z initial conditions). Deviations from normal were computed for each day for different quantities and then averaged by month.

Climatological Anomalies
In comparing deviations from normal across wide regions, it helps to normalize the deviations. A temperature deviation of 3 degrees C may be not that unusual in one region, but may be very significant in another. The solution is to use climatological anomalies. Calculating the climatological anomaly is a two step process. First, we calculate the difference between a quantity (i.e., temperature) and it's 30-year average value. Then we normalize the difference by dividing it with the 30-year standard deviation. From statistical theory, we know how unusual climatological anomalies are by value:

Odds of a deviation > 1 climatological anomaly=31.7%
Odds of a deviation > 2 climatological anomalies=4.5%
Odds of a deviation > 3 climatological anomalies=0.27%
Odds of a deviation > 4 climatological anomalies=6.34/1000%
Odds of a deviation > 5 climatological anomalies=5.7/100000%
Odds of a deviation > 6 climatological anomalies=1.9/1000000%

In Fig. 2, we can see a large area of +1 anonmalies in average 2-m temperature (the temperature recorded in weather reports) across western Russia, with small areas of +2 anomalies around Moscow. This means that for Moscow, the chances of the monthly temperature being this warm is less than 4.5%.

Fig. 2 Climatological anomalies of average 2-m temperature for July 2010.

Looking at Fig. 3, we see that the the 500 mb heights are greater than expected in the heat wave region. This shows that a stronger than usual upper-level ridge is in place over the region, initiating the heat wave. The low height anomalies to the west and east of the ridge indicate that an Omega block was in place for much of July, keeping the ridge in place. Also, looking at the pattern of the height anomalies, it is clear that the general circulation of the northern mid-latitudes is different than the typical summer patterns.

Fig. 3 Average deviations (not normalized) of 500 mb heights for July 2010.

Figure 4 shows that the soil moisture feedback loop was active for the month of July. There are widespread anomalies of -3 and even small areas of -4. This means that 99.8% of the time, the soil is more moist than it is now. This is an exceptionally unusual soil moisture shortfall, and it's occurring in in Russia's wheat growing region.

Fig. 4 Climatological anomalies of soil moisture for July 2010.

Now the keen-eyed reader may be saying, "This is all fine and good model analysis, but do you have any real data?" The MODIS instrument on NASA's TERRA and AQUA can measure how green vegetation is from space. Figure 5 shows that the vegetation in southern Russia is much browner than usual for the month of July. This is consistent with the temperature and soil moisture anomalies described earlier.

Fig. 5 NDVI anomalies for July 2010 from MODIS data over Southern Russia (provided by NASA's Earth Observatory)

Global Warming and Heat Waves
As the climate warms, we expect heat waves to become more frequent (Ganguly et al., 2009). Now there is still considerable uncertainty on where the heat waves will occur, that seems to depend on the climate model used. However, the physics of heat waves do not change. Heat waves in climate simulations are still associated with upper-level ridges (Meehl and Tebauldi, 2004). This suggests that we will likely see more heat waves like the Muscovite heat wave of 2010 in the future.

References/More Information
Hong, Song-You, Eugenia Kalnay, 2002: The 1998 Oklahoma–Texas Drought: Mechanistic Experiments with NCEP Global and Regional Models. J. Climate, 15, 945-963

Ganguly et al., Higher Trends But Larger Uncertainty And Geographic Variability In 21st Century Temperature And Heat Waves, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2009.

G. Meehl and C. Tebauldi, More Intense, More Frequent, And Longer Lasting Heat Waves In The 21st Century, Science, 2004.

J. Namias, "Some Meteorological Aspects Of Drought With Special Reference to The Summers Of 1952–54 Over The United States", Monthly Weather Review, 1955.

J. Namias, "Anatomy of Great Plains Protracted Heat Waves (Especially The 1980 U.S. Summer Drought)", Monthly Weather Review, 1982.

Palecki, Michael A., Stanley A. Changnon, Kenneth E. Kunkel, 2001: The Nature and Impacts of the July 1999 Heat Wave in the Midwestern United States: Learning from the Lessons of 1995. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 82, 1353-1367

W. Palmer, "Meterological Drought", US Weather Bureau Research Paper No. 45, 1965

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

Log In or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 19 - 1

Page: 1 — Blog Index

19. DSiedelmann
5:40 PM GMT on August 28, 2010
Heat wave in Russia caused by a dark supernova blast. Beta Cassiopeia HR 21 at 54 light years type III went hypernova followed by type IV went supernova. I recorded the blast arrival October 15, 2009 at 19:43 UTC.
Delay of heat arriving from iron core about 226 days for this event which makes May 29, 2010 the day the heat from the core arrived.
heat magnitude = K * e^(-t*ln 2/hflf)
t is time in days
hflf similar to 27-Co-56 77.233 days
K is determined by supernova magnitude formula

This is the origin of much of the heat:
26-Fe-56 + 6th neutrino -> 28-Ni-56 + 2x e-
The above reaction accounts for the classic bright supernova decay curve. Same reaction when the 20 second wide neutrino pulse hits the iron-nickel core of Earth.

About 28.138 MeV per iron-56 nuclei. Many other ferromagnetic nuclei also contribute. Halflives are wildly different so most of those are much shorter or much longer halflife.

Supernova blast ground zero was 55° north and 43° east which is due east of Moscow, Russia about 5.33° latitude. The hot spot is almost directly under Moscow, Russia. The difference attributed to the two electrons going westward to produce a stronger magnetic field towards the west.

This event is 1 of about 50 in the past year so we have a record heat year coming up. The phenomena does not occur in southern hemisphere because the neutrino engages one end of the spinning nuclei.
This confirms my 616 model of the nucleus.

Texas and Oklahoma hot spot caused by dark supernova Herculis HR 6775 on December 8, 2009 at 17:49 UTC. Also a type IV dark supernova.
Delay in arrival of heat about 228 days because of larger Earth radii at that location.

Type V dark supernova are about 19.2 times larger magnitude. Most of those landed in the oceans. I have only two events with good data right now.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
18. dbmetz
5:51 PM GMT on August 25, 2010

Moscow Fires Nearly Extinguished
Firefighters have succeeded in extinguishing almost all of the blazes in the Moscow region, one of the areas worst hit by the fatal flames this summer. The estimated cost of the heat wave and resulting fires is approaching four hundred million dollars
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
15. pdjakow
2:24 PM GMT on August 08, 2010
Climatological anomaly in Moscow was much greater than +2.

July 1971-2000 = 18.4
July 2010 = 26.0 /*see CLIMAT report for 27612*/
Deviation = +7.6
SD for july 1971-2000 = 1.61

So 7.6 / 1.61 is equal to 4.73.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
14. Patrap
5:34 PM GMT on August 07, 2010
West Nile Virus Infections Spread in New York City, 3 Cases Confirmed

7 August, 2010

The New York City health department today confirmed that the city has been hit with the West Nile virus, which is potentially fatal. The department today confirmed that there are now 3 known cases of West Nile virus infections within the city limits. The infections have now become a major issue for the residents of the New York
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
13. RyanFSU
5:34 PM GMT on August 07, 2010
Dr. Carver, are you using the methodology of Hart et al. (2001)? It would be appropriate to reference this paper from MWR.

Also, normalized anomalies cannot be interpreted as you are suggesting, because 30-years is way to short to establish the appropriate distributions at every grid point.

A complimentary (and better) way to approach this problem is to calculate the actual distribution at each grid point and plot the percentile (%). So with the CFSR reanalysis and 500 mb height for example, include all 31-years and then allow for a centered 21-day mean. This gives 31 x 4 x 21 realizations to create the distribution. The reanalysis is too short to be representative of the climate variability at each grid point.

Thus, you cannot really establish "rarity" of the heat wave event from the CFSR normalized anomalies because you are operating in the very long tail of extreme events associated with the phenomena you are addressing.

An example from my website, shows the mean sea-level pressure normalized anomalies for the GFS forecast. Thus, any tropical storm is shown as a huge anomaly -- something that only appears once every million years according to your stdev analogy. Not so.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
12. massemaj
12:44 PM GMT on August 07, 2010
Something like the Great Russian Heat Wave of 2010 happened in 1980 in the central USA. I was in Manhattan, Kansas at the time, where the dustbowl record for consecutive days at or above 100 F was tied, then a day of 98 F, followed by 14 more above 100, all with no rain except a few drops here and there. We had several days in the 110-115 range. Everything, including the native grasses, was curled up and crunchy by mid July. Relative humidities were desert-like, with 15-25 mph SW winds daily. Clothes dried so fast on the line that by the time I hung them up, I could go to the beginning and start taking them down.

Anyway, it might be worth looking back at those 1980 data to see if there was a similar setup.
I am writing from France on the west side of the Russian ridge, where it has been quite cool for weeks- rarely above 24 C.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
11. Chicklit
12:40 PM GMT on August 07, 2010
Thank-you for the background on the climatological reasons for the heat wave.
To boil it down further, less water, more heat equates to higher mortality, animal and vegetable.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
10. jerseycityjoan
5:24 AM GMT on August 07, 2010
I agree, great writeup of this scary sitution, Dr. Carver.

The list of excessively hot and bad places to be this summer just keeps getting longer. It's enough to make me feel grateful to be hot and miserable here in the New York City area -- where at least it's cooler than many other places.

Does amyone have any ideas about how much longer the heat, fires and smoke will lsst over there?
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
9. weatherdogg
11:16 PM GMT on August 06, 2010
I recall that there was also a 5-sigma level anomaly in the AO this winter. Wonder if there is any tele- (or temporal) connection)?
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
5. ReefMaster
7:10 PM GMT on August 06, 2010
Great overview, Rob. Thanks!!!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
4. Midweststorm
6:15 PM GMT on August 06, 2010
Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:
What's the situation in the Ukraine, another major wheat producer?

As far as I have read, some of the fires burning over there may move into Ukraine. There are concerns regarding the chernobyl area as well, since a fire there will lift radiation into the air.

As for wheat prices, expect them to go up even more, several countries apparently are reporting lower expectations for crops already. Canada and Australia are 2 of them listed on
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
3. ShenValleyFlyFish
4:50 PM GMT on August 06, 2010
What's the situation in the Ukraine, another major wheat producer?
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
1. Midweststorm
4:12 PM GMT on August 06, 2010
A nice read Doc! I usually stay in the tropics, but as various severe weather phenomenon seems to be on the increase, I think I will keep my eyes coming back to your blog. It is quite interesting to hear both facts and theories on all types of weather realated things.

Keep up the great work!

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 19 - 1

Page: 1 — Blog Index

Top of Page
Ad Blocker Enabled

Dr. Rob Carver's WunderBlog

About rcarver

Rob is the Research and Development Scientist for Weather Underground. He has a Ph.D. in meteorology from Penn State University.

Local Weather

Mostly Cloudy
49 °F
Mostly Cloudy

rcarver's Recent Photos

Sent from my iPhone

Sent from my iPhone
Cell Phone Image 33
Cell Phone Image 32