Masters: Over 15,000 likely dead in Russia, 17 nations comprising 19% of Earth’s total land area set extreme heat records this year, July was “sixth straight record warm month in the tropical Atlantic”
Caption: “A comparison of August temperatures, the peak of the great European heat wave of 2003 (left) with July temperatures from the Great Russian Heat Wave of 2010 (right) reveals that this year’s heat wave is more intense and covers a wider area of Europe. Image credit: NOAA/ESRL” — Jeff Masters.
Ria Novisti reports:
Russia has recently seen the longest unprecedented heat wave for at least one thousand years, the head of the Russian Meteorological Center said on Monday….
“We have an ‘archive’ of abnormal weather situations stretching over a thousand years. It is possible to say there was nothing similar to this on the territory of Russia during the last one thousand years in regard to the heat,” Alexander Frolov said.
He said scientists received information on ancient weather conditions by exploring lake deposits.
Frolov also said Russia’s grain crop may decrease by at least 30% compared to last year.
Once-in-a-thousand-year weather events ain’t what they used to be (see “Stunning NOAA map of Tennessee’s 1000-year deluge“). And we’ve only warmed about 1.5°F in the past century. We’re projected to warm some 6 times that (!) on our current emissions path. So we ain’t seen nothing yet!
The BBC reports, “Moscow’s health chief has confirmed the mortality rate has doubled as a heatwave and wildfire smog continue to grip the Russian capital.” The BBC repeats the “worst in 1,000 years of recorded Russian history” line, and quotes Frolov also saying, “It’s an absolutely unique phenomenon – nothing like it can be seen in the archives.” But the BBC is mum on global warming or climate change or greenhouse gas emissions.
At least Russian leaders are starting to get (see Medvedev: “What is happening now in our central regions is evidence of this global climate change, because we have never in our history faced such weather conditions in the past”).
Meteorologist Jeff Masters has the full story on just what Russia and the rest of the planet is going through:
The Great Russian Heat Wave of 2010 brought temperatures of 37°C (99°F) to Moscow today, and smog and smoke from wildfires blanketed the city for a sixth straight day. Air pollution levels were 2 – 3 times the maximum safe level today, and peaked on Saturday, when when carbon monoxide hit 6.5 times the safe level. The death toll from heat and air pollution increased to approximately 330 people per day in Moscow in recent days, according to the head of the Moscow health department. Yevgenia Smirnova, an official from the Moscow registry office, said excess deaths in Moscow in July averaged 155 per day, compared to 2009. The heat wave began on June 27. These grim statistics suggest that in Moscow alone, the Great Russian Heat Wave of 2010 has likely killed at least 7,000 people so far. A plot of the departure of July 2010 temperatures from average (Figure 1) shows that the area of Russia experiencing incredible heat is vast, and that regions southeast of Moscow have the hottest, relative to average. Moscow is the largest city in Russia, with a population just over ten million, but there are several other major cities in the heat wave region. These include Saint Petersburg, Russia’s 2nd most populous city (4.6 million), and Nizhny Novgorod, Russia’s 5th most populous city (1.3 million people.) Thus, the Russian population affected by extreme heat is at least double the population of Moscow, and the death toll in Russia from the 2010 heat wave is probably at least 15,000, and may be much higher.
The only comparable heat wave in European history occurred in 2003, and killed an estimated 40,000 – 50,000 people, mostly in France and Italy. While the temperatures in that heat wave were not as extreme as the Russian heat wave, the nighttime low temperatures in the 2003 heat wave were considerably higher. This tends to add to heat stress and causes a higher death toll. I expect that by the time the Great Russian Heat Wave of 2010 is over, it may rival the 2003 European heat wave as the deadliest heat wave in world history.
Belarus records its hottest temperature in history for the second day in a row
The Russian heat wave has also affected the neighboring nations of Ukraine and Belarus. All three nations have recorded their hottest temperatures in history over the past few weeks. Belarus, on the western border of Russia, recorded its hottest temperature in history on Saturday, August 7, when the mercury hit 38.9°C (102°F) in Gomel. This broke the all-time record for extreme heat set just one day before, the 38.7°C (101.7°F) recorded in Gorky. Prior to 2010, the hottest temperature ever recorded in Belarus was the 38.0°C (100.4°F) in Vasiliyevichy on Aug. 20, 1946. As I described in detail in Saturday’s post, Belarus’ new all-time extreme heat record gives the year 2010 the most national extreme heat records for a single year–seventeen. These nations comprise 19% of the total land area of Earth. This is the largest area of Earth’s surface to experience all-time record high temperatures in any single year in the historical record. Looking back at the past decade, which was the hottest decade in the historical record, Seventy-five countries set extreme hottest temperature records (33% of all countries.) For comparison, fifteen countries set extreme coldest temperature records over the past ten years (6% of all countries).
Earth has now seen four consecutive months with its warmest temperature on record, and the first half of 2010 was the warmest such 6-month period in the planet’s history. It is not a surprise that many all-time extreme heat records are being shattered when the planet as a whole is so warm. Global warming “loads the dice” to favor extreme heat events unprecedented in recorded history.
July SSTs in the tropical Atlantic set a new record
Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) in the Atlantic’s Main Development Region for hurricanes had their warmest July on record, according to an analysis I did of historical SST data from the UK Hadley Center. SST data goes back to 1850, though there is much missing data before 1910 and during WWI and WWII. SSTs in the Main Development Region (10°N to 20°N and 20°W to 80°W) were 1.33°C above average during July, beating the previous record of 1.19°C set in July 2005. July 2010 was the sixth straight record warm month in the tropical Atlantic, and had the third warmest anomaly of any month in history. The five warmest months in history for the tropical Atlantic have all occurred this year. As I explained in detail in a post on record February SSTs in the Atlantic, the Arctic Oscillation (AO) and its close cousin, the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), are largely to blame for the record SSTs, though global warming and Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) also play a role.
The magnitude of the anomaly has increased slightly since June, because trade winds over the tropical Atlantic were at below-normal speeds during July. These lower trade wind speeds were due to the fact that the Bermuda-Azores High had below-normal surface pressures over the past month. The Bermuda-Azores High and its associated trade winds are forecast to remain at below-average strength during the next two weeks, according to the latest runs of the GFS model. This means that Atlantic SST anomalies will continue to stay at record warm levels during the remainder of August, and probably during September as well. This should significantly increase the odds of getting major hurricanes in the Atlantic during the peak part of hurricane season, mid-August through mid-October.
Still not much coverage in the status quo media of any link between the extreme whether they are mostly reporting and the human-caused global warming that they mostly are not.
If you see any good stories in the media, please post them in the comments.
While it doesn’t really count as the MSM, the NYT’s Green blog does have a good piece, “Has a Warming Russia Outpaced the World?”
Better known for long, bitterly cold winters, Russia is well on the way to becoming the poster child for the perils of global warming this summer….
Proof of warming is widespread across Russia. Glaciers and Arctic sea ice have dwindled, and as many as 385,000 square miles of Siberian tundra are thawing.
Wildfires have also been on the rise for decades, a trend that scientists expect to accelerate as temperatures continue to rise in coming decades.