Global Warming Science -


Russia’s Heat Wave, July 2010


[last update: 2011/03/09]

[original: 2010/08/23]



Russia’s 2010 Heat Wave – Media Blame Global Warming


In July 2010, western Russia around the Moscow area suffered an extreme heat wave resulting in many deaths.


The mainstream media blamed it on global warming:



there may turn out to be a bright side to Russia's devastating weather: one of the nations most responsible for driving climate change may finally start trying to do something about it.



NOAA Says It’s Not Due to Global Warming


The US National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Earth System Research Laboratory published a report on Aug 13 [] which states that despite “strong evidence for a warming planet, greenhouse gas forcing fails to explain the 2010 heat wave over western Russia. … the current blocking event is intrinsic to the natural variability of summer climate in this region, a region which has a climatological vulnerability to blocking and associated heat waves (e.g., 1960, 1972, 1988). … Our assessment indicates that, owing to the mainly natural cause for this heat wave, it is very unlikely that a similar event will recur next summer or in the immediate future (next decade).



The heat wave was concentrated in western Russia – Siberia experienced much cooler than normal temperatures. The following figure shows temperature anomalies for July 20-27 relative to the average for the same dates 2000-2008 []





Update March 9, 2011:


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. 





Jet Stream


Russia’s weather is affected by the polar jet stream. The polar jet stream is generally located in the 50-60 degree N latitude region. The latitudinal position of the jet stream also shifts with the seasons, following the sun – moving towards the pole in the summer. The following figures illustrate the jet stream []




When the polar vortex is strong the jet stream tends to follow a more circular path; when the vortex is weak the jet stream meanders []


When the jet stream is meandering, it is susceptible to atmospheric blocking events (blocking anticyclones). The following figures show the 250 mb composite mean wind speed for July 23 - 30 for (left): average of 1968-1996, and (right): 2010. This shows the disturbance and meandering of the jet stream in July 2010 (right) compared to the normal condition (left). []



Comparing the July 2010 temperature anomalies shown previously with the July jet stream indicates the position of the Russia heat wave relative to the jet stream blocking.




The following figure shows the number of blocking days for July since 1948 with the 0-60 E longitude (eastern Europe – western Russia) highlighted [] “The Russian heat wave of 2010 has been an extreme and abrupt event. The July heat did not simply follow on the heals [sic] of a sequence of progressively warmer summers over recent decades, but stands out as a discrete event that is reminiscent of the often sharp year-to-year swings in this region's July surface temperatures during the last 130 years. … The extreme surface warmth over western Russia during July and early August is mostly a product of the strong and persistent blocking high.



More information on blocking can be found at []





Temperature History


The following figure shows July average temperature for 1880-2009 for the six 5x5 degree grids with data in the 50-60Nx35-55E block from the Hadley CRUTEM3 data (anomalies based on 1961-1990)

(plotted at []).




Prior to 2010, the two warmest Julys were in the 1930s. “The 2010 average July temperature in Moscow was 7.8°C (14°F) above normal, smashing the previous record for hottest July, set in 1938 (5.3°C above normal.)” []


The following figure shows the similar data from the NOAA GHCN data (anomalies based on 1880-2009) including 10-year smoothing (black line) []



The region’s July temperatures exhibit a 60-year pattern with a cooling trend during the 1890s-1920s, followed by warming in the 1930s, then cooling during the 1940s-1980s, followed by warming in the 1990s. It remains to be seen whether this cooling pattern will repeat in the coming decades.


NASA’s GISS provides the capability to plot global temperature anomaly maps for individual months, years or seasons at The following figures from that site compare July 2010 (top) with July 1938 (bottom). Although the July 2010 heat wave was more widespread in the region, it is similar to the extreme heat waves that have occurred in the past, exhibiting the blocking pattern resulting in simultaneous cooler than normal temperatures in Siberia.





The NOAA/ESRL provides plotting of NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis data (starting from 1948) at:


The following figure plots the July geopotential height of 500 mb (used to calculate the blocking index) from the NCEP/NCAR data for several individual years and compares them with the July temperature anomalies and blocking history graphs shown previously.



The top two plots show a cold July (1956) and a July with close to zero temperature anomaly (2005). The bottom two plots show examples of the warm anomaly blocking pattern (1972 and 2010). The distinctive jet stream patterns for cold, “normal”, and hot Julys are clearly visible in these plots. Not every year matches these patterns since there is a lot of variation in climatic phenomena. For example, 2001 and 2002 had hot Julys in the region but the blocking did not last for many days (plots shown below).






Alarmists Ignore the Science


The alarmist “beacon in the smog” displayed its usual lost-in-the-smog scientific ignorance:




I guess Grist considers NOAA to not be climate experts.


But the normally pro-AGW New Scientist says it was due to the “frozen jet stream” []


Piers Corbyn, who runs a weather prediction service ( has an interview at and says the jet stream blocking is based on the sun’s activity modulated by the moon [] “the people who claim it’s global warming are either ignorant or wish to mislead the public for political and financial ends”.



Piers Corbyn has a successful weather prediction service based on: “What happens on the sun dictates the circulation patterns of the globe due to a lot of magnetic connections particles from the sun and the moon modulating the impact of those particles.” (quote from above interview). Regarding the global warming alarmists he said: “we’ve got to go back to evidence-based science and evidence-based policy. The fact is there’s no evidence for CO2 driving world temperatures or climate”.