Russian Heat Wave falsely used as evidence for AGW

10 Mar

The Russian Heat Wave of 2010 was terrible. Tens of thousands died from the heat, ensuing wildfires, and poor air quality. The unusually high temperatures were frequently touted as evidence of AGW. I’m going to show you these false claims. First, some background.

A recent paper published (or soon to be) by NOAA scientists has established that the Russian Heat Wave was primarily driven by natural variability, not by AGW. Just so there is no ambiguity, here is their conclusion:

Our analysis points to a primarily natural cause for the Russian heat wave. This event appears to be mainly due to internal atmospheric dynamical processes that produced and maintained an intense and long-lived blocking event. Results from prior studies suggest that it is likely that the intensity of the heat wave was further increased by regional land surface feedbacks. The absence of long-term trends in regional mean temperatures and variability together with the model results indicate that it is very unlikely that warming attributable to increasing greenhouse gas concentrations contributed substantially to the magnitude of this heat wave.

Now, the paper could be wrong and other climate scientists might take issue with it. But I seriously doubt it. Why? Because their conclusions were already known, even during the event itself. It was due to a blocking event, which was unusually long and intense. During the heat wave, The World Climate Report wrote exactly the same thing in an article on the 12’th of August:

The driving force of the 2010 heat wave has been a stationary weather system that has remained locked in place over western Russia since mid-June. The atmospheric is termed to be “blocked” when atmospheric circulation patterns remained fixed in place, instead of being progressive.

This is an extremely well known meteorological phenomenon. Anthony Watts wrote about it on August 19’th. So, how often was this fact mentioned in regards to the Russian Heat Wave versus man’s influence on the climate? Well, let’s take a look at one blog, Climate Progress. Joe Romm runs this blog. He devoted ten posts to the subject in July-August 2010. Here they are:

Climate Progress, July 20

Climate Progress, July 26

Climate Progress, August 2

Climate Progress, August 5

Climate Progress, August 7

Climate Progress, August 9

Climate Progress, August 12

Climate Progress, August 14

Climate Progress, August 15

Climate Progress, August 17

How many times did Joe Romm mention blocking? Zero. He simply never brought it up.

However, he wasn’t afraid to blame humans for the heat wave and wildfires. The August 14’th post was entitled “Climate experts agree: Global warming caused unprecedented Russian heat wave”. In the August 17’th post, he proposed naming a new name for the weather in Russia, “The Monckton Russian Heat and Fires”. He blast opponents who don’t agree that this phenomenon is caused by human activity. He laments that the NYT doesn’t give enough coverage to the problem.

Joe Romm was wrong, but he was far from the only one. Tamino had a post on August 12’th in which he stated:

And that means that the suggestion that this heat wave is just a natural variation, not due to global warming, is implausible. Or as we say here in Maine, t’aint likely.

Here’s a blog entry from the Polaris Project, August 14’th:

In the wake of the heat wave here in Russia, as well as the several other bouts of extreme weather around the globe this year (floods in the US and Pakistan, heat waves in Africa, eastern Asia, and eastern US), it is looking more and more like we are seeing the effects of anthropogenic (man-made) climate change.

Here’s the NYT Green blog, August 6’th:

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.

These are just blogs, the more mainstream media was all over the story. Here’s a sampling:

Climate change: Will Russian heat wave prompt serious action from Moscow?

Climate change ‘partly to blame’ for sweltering Moscow

Russian heat wave dents hopes of climate “winners”

Russian fires forecast climate change threat

ANALYSIS-Pakistan floods, Russia heat fit climate trend

Official: Russian Disaster Sign of Global Warming

It’s easy to see why they all jumped on the climate change bandwagon. Record temperatures were set and broken numerous times. No one in Russia could remember anything like it. The President come out and stated that it was global warming.

However, as climate scientists so frequently point out when we have massive snowstorms or record cold temperatures, one event doesn’t mean AGW is true or false. Proponents of AGW (especially Joe Romm) were all too happy to take this one event and use it as evidence for AGW. They were wrong.


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Posted by on March 10, 2011 in Uncategorized


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