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AGU journal highlights -- April 13, 2011
Date:4/13/2011

r recent weather events such as the 2010 Russian heat wave. Using climate simulations and a comparison against historical conditions, Dole et al. assess the influence of greenhouse gases, aerosols, anomalous sea surface temperatures, and other potential climate forcings on the likelihood and magnitude of the 2010 Russian heat wave. The authors suggest that the heat wave, which lasted from late June to mid-August and was responsible for thousands of deaths, widespread wild fires, and devastating crop loss, fell well within the bounds of natural climate variability.

The authors find that none of the tested climate factors showed appreciable ability to predict the extreme temperatures seen throughout the heat wave. Additionally, the researchers' historical analysis reveals that July temperatures, as well as the temperature variability, for the affected region of western Russia showed no significant trend over the past 130 years. They note that the top 10 hottest July days for the region were distributed randomly across the historical period, although global averages do show clustering in the past 2 decades.

While the researchers argue that there is no reason to have anticipated the extreme nature of the heat wave from a historical perspective, Matsueda (Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L06801, doi:10.1029/2010GL046557, 2011. See Highlight 5, below.) suggests that many of the details of this particular event could have been predicted using short-term weather forecasting.

See related press release: http://www.agu.org/news/press/pr_archives/2011/2011-10.shtml

Source: Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1029/2010GL046582, 2011 http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2010GL046582

Title: Was there a basis for anticipating the 2010 Russian heat wave?

Authors: Randall Dole and Martin Hoerling; Physical Sc
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Contact: Peter Weiss
pweiss@agu.org
202-777-7507
American Geophysical Union
Source:Eurekalert

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