ASU scientists discuss weather and climate changes

29 December 2016 Department of Information and Media Communications
Famous climatologist, Assistant Professor of the Department of Physical Geography and Geographic Information Systems, Candidate of Geography Natalia F. Kharlamova touched upon frequent extreme weather events, spoke about climate changes happening on our planet and shared the weather forecast for the New Year holidays in Barnaul.

Climate monitoring shows that Altai Krai has seen early beginning of winter with severe frosts in November this year. As a result, the average temperature of the last month turned out to be 6.2°С lower than the longstanding norm. Thus, the atmospheric temperature reached -36.0°С on 17 November and -36.8°С on 18 November. These figures are just a little lower than the minimal temperature of -38.9°С recorded on 24 November 1987. At the same time, the average temperature of December exceeded the norm by 2.4°С.

“The snow cover depth in Altai Krai is unusually high this year. The amount of precipitations in November was 49% higher than usual. Abundant precipitations in December overreached the norm by 116%. People were also surprised by the snowfall in Sahara and abnormally high temperature on the North Pole. It should be regarded as weather anomalies. As for climate changes, the parameters within 30-year periods of time must be analyzed. According to the 5th Report by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the temperature on the planet had increased by 0.85°С in 1850–2012. 1983–2012 has been the warmest period for the last 1,400 years. The climate warming in Russia is even more extreme. In 1901–2000 the temperature got higher by 0.9°С. The warming has been especially intensive since 1976, the temperature has been increasing 2.5 times faster in Russia than in the rest of the world<” explained Natalia F. Kharlamova.

From scientists’ point of view, it is especially relevant to assess regional climate changes, because the rate of warming varies considerably from one place of the Earth to another. They are more intensive at high latitudes (the Arctic Region, Yakutia and Siberia) and in some midland areas (Khakassia, Tyva and Altai). Thus, average raise in temperature for the whole world was 0.6°С in 1901–2000; by comparison, in Barnaul it equaled 1.8°С.

“The positive trend in surface temperature does not mean that every year will be warmer than the previous one,” noted Natalia F. Kharlamova. “Nevertheless there is a long-term trend for warming, there are also some short-time cold periods. The main peculiarity of the warming is growing variability of temperature and precipitations. This phenomenon was named climate swings or climate fluctuations. It is characterized by frequency of extreme weather events. This fact is very worrying, as considerable changes of temperature and atmosphere pressure, frequent strong winds and snowstorms affect people’s health, increase injury risks, imply difficulties to the work of ground and air transportation and utility service providers and so on.”

Characterization of ongoing and future climate changes and climate diagnostics are fundamental objectives of geography. ASU scientists have been working in this direction for many years. In anticipation of New Year holidays they decided to make citizens of Barnaul happy with a good weather forecast.

“The week of oncoming New Year holidays will be comfortable, mild and warm, so we recommend enjoying outdoor activities with your family instead of staying at home in order to gain some positive energy and get ready to face the succession of weather abnormalities. The only thing we can do about climate fluctuations is get accustomed to them. Please, do not blame hydrometeorologists for that. They do hard work in good faith, take readings in the pouring rain and severe frost every three hours. Although, forecasting weather accurately and correctly is still a very complex task, especially that a lot of meteorological stations were closed after perestroika. For example, in the past there were meteorological stations in every region of Altai Krai, and now there are only 33 left, which affects the quality of the forecasts.”

Currently, the Hydro-Meteorological Service is being modernized. Sometimes the results of meteorological observations vary from one station to another because the outmoded equipment is replaced with the newer one. The scientists of Altai State University are trying to solve this problem.

“Of course, climate conditions change, and the main reason for that is man-induced impact on the environment. Climate is also influenced by such external factors as solar activity, position of big planets, El Nino Southern Oscillation and so on. People have pushed for climate changes, and now we can only get used to them,” summarized Natalia F. Kharlamova.

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