Natural Variability Culprit Of
Russian Heat Wave That Killed Thousands
March 13, 2011 - The deadly Russian heat wave of 2010 was due to a natural atmospheric phenomenon often associated with weather extremes, according to a new NOAA study.
And while the scientists could not attribute the
intensity of this particular heat wave to climate
change, they found that extreme heat waves are likely to
become increasingly frequent in the region in coming
The research team drew from scientific observations and computer climate models to evaluate the possible roles of natural and human-caused climate influences on the severity of the heat wave.
was accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, a
publication of the American Geophysical Union. ?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
Temperatures in the upper 90s to above 100 F scorched western
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.
?It appears that
The team ? led by
Dole, Hoerling, and Judith Perlwitz from the Cooperative Institute for
Research in Environmental Sciences at the
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
?We know that
climate change is not taking place at the same rate everywhere on the
globe,? said Hoerling. ?
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