13 August 2010, 19:08

Jet stream’s unusual behavior to blame for heat wave?

Jet stream’s unusual behavior to blame for heat wave?
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The problem of extreme heat, that has been torturing Russia for several weeks in a row, is still high on the agenda. While heat-stricken Russia desperately waits for the rain to come, Pakistan seems to get double the rain it needed. Scientists say that these two events may be linked. How, one may wonder?

The problem of extreme heat, that has been torturing Russia for several weeks in a row, is still high on the agenda. While heat-stricken Russia desperately waits for the rain to come, Pakistan seems to get double the rain it needed. Scientists say that these two events may be linked. How, one may wonder? The clue lies in the jet stream, a current of very strong winds high above the Earth's surface. Normally it would move around the Earth, shifting the air and transforming the weather. But now it remains still, which makes it responsible for unchanging weather over Russian and Pakistani territories.

Interviewer: Our expert Alexei Kokorin from the WWF expressed his view over this new theory.  Is the linkage between jet stream’s unusual behaviour and abnormal weather conditions true?

Alexei Kokorin: I think this is a very reasonable hypothesis. Not only hypothesis, it is quite scientifically based interlinkage of areas with different regions. So, actually they have whole picture or whole puzzle of global climate change.  Heat wave in Moscow or the central Russia is not just a separate event of Russia, it’s a part of global puzzle, and blocking high pressure area what we have now in Moscow for the whole month or more. It’s interlinked with the Asian or the Northern-Atlantic areas and even El Niño.  Even El Niño in March was a signal on potential such blocking event in Central Russia.  So, now they see that no extreme event in the globe can be investigated separately.  It must be really investigated as a whole puzzle.

Interviewer: Obviously, the jet stream has changed its normal behaviour. The question is – what are the reasons for such a change.

Alexei Kokorin: It’s not here for the scientific point of view yet.  Therefore, it seems to me that it is very reasonable explanation, but they have to study it more to be surer.  Anyway, the basic statement is that in Russia what we have, the heat wave, cannot be investigated separately. It must be comparative whole picture, including the blocking of this jet stream. I hope that such event will enforce climate research in Russia and involvement of Russian scientists in whole movement of climate researches. Of course, in Russia scientists are working together with foreign colleagues but now I hope it will be more close, more active, more and better funded. I hope that Russian Academy of Science and Hydrometeorological service will have more money for research then before.

Interviewer: The forecast for the future seems to be rather gloomy. Is there anything we can do to change the current situation?

Alexei Kokorin: Actually, unfortunately scientists are sure, that main contribution climate change globally is anthropogenic.  Of course, natural impact existed, exist and will exist.  But now and  last at least 20 years anthropogenic impact is significantly larger, and,  in particular, solar activity this year, 2010, is several times more powerful  than before, than previous year, but ,anyway, even this increased solar activity is several times smaller than anthropogenic impact. And given anthropogenic effect is mainly increased in greenhouse gases.  And, in turn, greenhouse gas effect is emission of CO2, methane, fluocarbons and other greenhouse gases. Therefore everybody of us can make contribution, real contribution by reducing of emission. It means that if they save energy, save heat, save electricity, first of all they reduce emission by energy.  It’s global effect of course, but in Russia it is especially important, because Russian economy and Russian energy is enormously non-effective. And we must make it more effective, we must not only increase efficiency of production of electricity itself, we have to reduce demand in electricity. Reduce demand and save money in our pockets, in our family budget of course.  Therefore thinking about heat wave , thinking about climate , they have to think about our electricity standard in our apartment block house and try to contribute in both, family budget and global climate. 

Interviewer: The measures you mentioned - aren’t they the same as those that prevent global warming? Do you see any connection between what is happening now and the global warming?

Alexei Kokorin: Now large scale weather events cannot be treated separately. In majority of cases it’s called global warming.  But in reality, it’s very weak increase in temperature, in average temperature, less than one degree globally, but alteration of temperature and precipitation is about 10 times larger. And if it is 10 degrees higher temperature in Moscow, but 9 degrees lower temperature   in Buenos Aires, or maybe in Yakutia, so they have a sort of pluses and minuses. They are global average, so-called, warming. It’s only 1 degree above the norm,   but after ratio’s in amplitude 10 degrees higher, and this is the main damage.  Therefore global warming is the main reason, or anthropogenic impact on climate as increasing greenhouse effect.  But real effect is, of course, alteration of climate, larger extremality of climate or more feverous climate, what you want.

Interviewer: According to our expert it seems that the situation is a serious one. The time has come to look at the current situation from the global perspective. It is high time some measures were taken to reduce anthropogenic effect on our planet.

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