18 July 2010, 14:31

Russia struck by worst drought in 100 years

Russia struck by worst drought in 100 years
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Russia is going through its worst drought in more than a century. In Moscow, it’s hotter than in European and African resorts. The heat has caused asphalt to melt, boosted sales of air conditioners, ventilators, ice cream and beverages, and pushed world grain prices up. Ecologists are blaming the abnormally dry spell on climate change.

Russia is going through its worst drought in more than a century. In Moscow, it’s hotter than in European and African resorts. The heat has caused asphalt to melt, boosted sales of air conditioners, ventilators, ice cream and beverages, and pushed world grain prices up. Ecologists are blaming the abnormally dry spell on climate change.    

On Saturday, temperatures in Moscow hit a record high of 38 degrees Celsius and continue to rise, making this July the hottest month in 130 years. The average temperature in central Russia is 9 degrees above the seasonal norm.    

The heatwave has triggered forest fires and destroyed millions of hectares of crops. Pavel Skurikhin, President of the National Union of Grain Producers, forecasts this year’s grain harvest at 80 million tons, a 20-25% fall on last year, but still quite sufficient to meet domestic demand.

Meanwhile, Russia’s grain export potential has been downgraded from 20 million to 15 million tons. 

“Certainly, such a long period of hot weather in unusual for central Russia. But the global tendency proves that in future, such climate abnormalities will become only more frequent”, says Alexey Kokorin, the Head of Climate and Energy Program of the World Wide Fund (WWF) Russia.

"I think that the heat we are suffering from now as well as very low temperatures we had this winter, are hydrometeorological tendencies that are equally harmful  for us as they both were caused by human impact on weather and greenhouse effect which has grown stronger in the past 30-40 years. Besides, if 15 years ago we registered only 150-200 negative climate alterations, now we are facing 350-400, mainly storms, hurricanes, floods, heavy snowfalls, which are all very harmful. By the way, abnormally high temperature causes so-called heat storms," said Alexey Kokorin.

Mr. Kokorin believes that the only way to improve the situation is to weaken human impact on climate, boost economic energy efficiency and reduce environmentally unfriendly emissions.

However, he thinks that Russians will have nothing to do but adjust to changing climate conditions.        

Doctors advise to be especially attentive to health during hot weather: drink more water, spend less time in the sun, and take contrast showers.

Meteorologists say next week Russia will remain in the grip of hot weather.

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