Peer reviewed paper: 2010 Russian heat wave "mostly natural"

The 2010 Summer Heat Wave of Western Russia


Dole, R., Hoerling, M., Perlwitz, J., Eischeid, J., Pegion, P., Zhang, T., Quan, X.-W., Xu, T. and Murray, D. 2011. Was there a basis for anticipating the 2010 Russian heat wave? Geophysical Research Letters 38: 10.1029/2010GL046582.


The authors write that “the 2010 summer heat wave in western Russia was extraordinary, with the region experiencing the warmest July since at least 1880 and numerous locations setting all-time maximum temperature records.” And as a result, they say that “questions of vital societal interest are whether the 2010 Russian heat wave might have been anticipated, and to what extent human-caused greenhouse gas emissions played a role.”

What was done

In broaching this question, Dole et al. used both climate model simulations and observational data “to determine the impact of observed sea surface temperatures, sea ice conditions and greenhouse gas concentrations.”

What was learned

The nine U.S. researchers determined that “analysis of forced model simulations indicates that neither human influences nor other slowly evolving ocean boundary conditions contributed substantially to the magnitude of the heat wave.” In fact, they say that the model simulations provided “evidence that such an intense event could be produced through natural variability alone.” Similarly, on the observation front, they state that “July surface temperatures for the region impacted by the 2010 Russian heat wave show no significant warming trend over the prior 130-year period from 1880-2009,” noting, in fact, that “a linear trend calculation yields a total temperature change over the 130 years of -0.1°C.” In addition, they indicate that “no significant difference exists between July temperatures over western Russia averaged for the last 65 years (1945-2009) versus the prior 65 years (1880-1944),” and they state that “there is also no clear indication of a trend toward increasing warm extremes.” Last of all, they say that although there was a slightly higher variability in temperature in the latter period, the increase was “not statistically significant.”

What it means

“In summary,” to quote Dole et al., “the analysis of the observed 1880-2009 time series shows that no statistically significant long-term change is detected in either the mean or variability of western Russia July temperatures, implying that for this region an anthropogenic climate change signal has yet to emerge above the natural background variability.” Thus, they say their analysis “points to a primarily natural cause for the Russian heat wave,” noting that the event “appears to be mainly due to internal atmospheric dynamical processes that produced and maintained an intense and long-lived blocking event,” adding that there are no indications that “blocking would increase in response to increasing greenhouse gases.”


Review reprinted from

See also: Final words on the 2010 Russian heat wave from AGU: weather, predictable


NOAA finds”climate change” blameless in 2010 Russian heat wave

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
July 13, 2011 10:11 am

I have one simple question, do any of the climate models predict more frequent negative arctic oscillation that leads to higher pressure over the poles as the world warms and larger north south oscillation in the polar jet? I thought I had read somewhere that the GCM models predicted exactly the opposite (but I can’t find the reference).

Peter Plail
July 13, 2011 10:14 am

The only thing I would quibble with is their use of “mostly”. The accompanying commentary clearly indicates it was entirely natural.

July 13, 2011 10:14 am

It’s not entirely clear from a first reading of this, but this is another review of the April 2011 paper covered by that April WUWT page, Final words on the 2010 Russian heat wave from AGU: weather, predictable which I guess didn’t have quite the final words. 🙂

July 13, 2011 10:14 am

This doesn’t prove/disprove the larger context for what climate change science it telling us.

Mike Bromley the Kurd
July 13, 2011 10:15 am

Short of saying “It ain’t caused by global warming”, they don’t say “it ain’t caused by global warming”. So does this paper actually say anything, beyond being hesitant to skewer the non-hypothesis altogether? It seems to imply, frankly, that despite evidence to the contrary, the ACC signal is buried in there somewhere. Um…c’mon guys, just spit it out!

July 13, 2011 10:18 am

Just in time for the heat wave in the Southern US. The counterpart this time is 10-15 degrees below normal in the PNW.

July 13, 2011 10:41 am

model simulations provided “evidence that such an intense event could be produced through natural variability alone.”
Model simulations are evidence? Ouch. At least they backed it with observations.

July 13, 2011 10:42 am

Many of us recall the NYT’s front page piece in the fall of 2010 speculating as to whether the R. H. W. was caused by global warming. Of course they did everything but definitively assert that it was. I recall one scientist who said in the piece, “I can’t prove that it was, but my gut sure says it was.” Or words to that effect.
A peer reviewed paper was published some months later (not sure if the same one as this) which came to the conclusion that the heat wave was in fact a natural phenomenon. Just weather.
I wrote a couple letters to the Public Editor asking why the answer now that we have it concerning the cause of the heat wave, is not at least as important as the question. If not, then why ask it in the first place? Of course my letters were ignored.
The only possible conclusion for a fair-minded person is that it’s fine and dandy for the NYT’s to publish rank speculation if it supports the AGW case, but emphatically not ok to publish actual facts when they do not.

July 13, 2011 10:48 am

Al’s going to have to modify his video coming in Sept now to show that this was a natural event vs. CAGW…maybe not….

Adam Gallon
July 13, 2011 11:07 am

“implying that for this region an anthropogenic climate change signal has yet to emerge above the natural background variability.”
“Damn, we still can’t find this missing heat”?

Tom Davidson
July 13, 2011 11:49 am

Bottom line: given the difficulty of ‘proving a negative’, this data does prove ‘positively’ that if there is an AGW effect, it is *immeasurably* small over the past 130 years.

July 13, 2011 12:16 pm
July 13, 2011 12:40 pm

Seems like they’re finding more events that just somehow, can’t be tied to CAGW.
That NOAA CSI team also found that last blizzard wasn’t tied to CAGW either.
When someplace has a “streak” going for a heatwave, it’s front page news, and proof of a warming world.
But when Dallas went through a period where temps never went above 80 degrees (from Oct 20 2009 to Mar 30, 2010 – a total of 161 days) , the MSM doesn’t pick it up?
And the record of 166 consecutive days is 91 years old (that would make it 1919 or so).
Marble Bar, Austrailia still has the world’s record of CONSECUTUIVE days over 100 (160 days, back in ’23/24).
If we’re “loading the dice”, and going to see more extreme weather due to GW, why havent these long term records been tied or exceeded?

kadaka (KD Knoebel)
July 13, 2011 12:47 pm

rbateman said on July 13, 2011 at 10:18 am:

Just in time for the heat wave in the Southern US. The counterpart this time is 10-15 degrees below normal in the PNW.

Here in central Pennsylvania we seem to have finally emerged from a long cool wet season that took the place of our normal Spring. A few weeks back it was so cold late at night I could see my breath outside. Normally around the spring there are lots of potted garden plants for sale, as in small tomato, pepper, and other vegetable plants. That would have been a few months ago, planting starting roughly around mid- to late-April. Well, if those small plants were out this year I somehow completely missed it. The neighbors across the street had their garden lot tilled and cleared months ago, they’ve even gone over it to knock out the weeds. They finally gave up and planted some things about a month ago, presumably fast-growing stuff to match the short growing time available.
Now we’re getting some warmer days, a few around 90°F. Yesterday was rather oppressive with high temps and humidity, “air you can wear,” today’s not much better, thus OMG IT MUST BE GLOBAL WARMING!!!!!!

July 13, 2011 12:49 pm

When you say the paper was “peer reviewed”, I take it the peers were not the East Anglia clique.

Crispin in Waterloo
July 13, 2011 1:11 pm

Interesting that a pretty large swath of Russia has not increased in temperature at all in more than a century. Looking over the contintental USA figures, there is precious little to see there either, except at airports in cities. It seems Auz is not heating nearly enough to make up for anything like a whole continent somewhere else. It certainly isn’t warmer on average in Antarctica. Africa seems to be cooler! There has been a little bit of warming over Northern Canada but not enough to cook the books for the whole world.
So,where is all the hot air that is supposed to be averaging 0.7 C warmer all over the world in the past 100 years? Washington? Copenhagen? Hell, it must be bloody hot somewhere all the time – I wonder where? Perhaps 42°26’04″N and 83°59’05″W.

July 13, 2011 3:09 pm

There was already a critical contribution on “Klimazwiebel” in Germany to that topic which used similar arguments like in the paper above – that atmospheric circulation anomalies explain the heat wave while these anomalies are not becoming more frequent in the future – according to models.
So why should the heat wave be attributed to anthropogenic forcing?
I wonder why no discussion followed on Klimazwiebel?

July 13, 2011 3:26 pm

Obviously these researchers are paid by Exxon.

July 13, 2011 3:59 pm

2011, Western US:

July 13, 2011 4:10 pm

Last year’s and this year’s snow in Brazil, yes Brazil, is only natural. It’s just the damned weather and I wish Warmists would stop the alarm.

July 13, 2011 4:31 pm

Amazing how quickly a paper is accepted by “skepticks” when they believe it reinforces their worldview. Where is the skepticism?

July 13, 2011 5:15 pm

In my region of NSW, according to BOM’s own site, every single monthly maximum record, bar one, was set between 1910 and 1919. The exception was August, which had its record heat in 1946 or (maybe it was ’47).
I’ve got a copy of it somewhere on my computer, just in case someone decides to “adjust”.
What conclusion should a sensible fellow draw from all that? That one should draw NO conclusion.

July 13, 2011 5:59 pm

There is 800 years of Russian literature describing summer bog fires and now a peer reviewed paper says that Western Russia bog fires are natural. In Bolshevik tradition, the authors should either be shot for stating the obvious, or given metals for their bravery for stating that that is already known. Their fate is to be decided by the current political wind.

Theo Goodwin
July 13, 2011 6:11 pm

rbateman says:
July 13, 2011 at 10:18 am
“Just in time for the heat wave in the Southern US. The counterpart this time is 10-15 degrees below normal in the PNW.”
I guess it’s about time for my Central Florida summer AGW assessment. As expected, the daily high jumped to 90 F about May 1. Then it jumped to 94 F about June 1. In mid-June, daily afternoon showers began and will run through August. With daily afternoon showers, the daily high becomes complex. The daily high occurs between 1 and 3 PM instead of occurring between 3 and 5 PM as it did in May and early June. When the showers roll in, the temperature drops about 10 to 15 degrees. So, the daily high gets sheared every day. No doubt the NOAA people just write in the numbers from early June. Who would believe that the daily high in Central Florida is 86? This pattern and these numbers have repeated for all my born days. So there you have it: my summer AGW assessment.

July 13, 2011 6:44 pm

The authors write that “the 2010 summer heat wave in western Russia was extraordinary, with the region experiencing the warmest July since at least 1880 and numerous locations setting all-time maximum temperature records.”
I am not so sure. In, I think, 1931, Russia had a July heat wave within a fraction of a degree of the 2010 one. Both were so close that there was really no difference.

July 13, 2011 6:44 pm

Global warmers will not respect this study. And there will come a parade of excuses why.

July 13, 2011 6:59 pm

How ironic that CO2 Science would hawk a result that comes in-part from model simulations, when they have long list of studies showing that models are inadequate:
They write ( ” …there will be no way to know the climatic significance of either past or projected increases in the air’s CO2 content via the use of climate models.” (emphasis theirs)
Hypocrites? The answer is clear.
REPLY: Speaking of hypocrites, when will you be posting that list of death threats you took us to task over Appell? SO far you have not responded AFAIK and the offensive condescending holier than thou posts are still up on that little blog of yours. Man up. – Anthony

July 13, 2011 7:48 pm

Already for three weeks we have been suffering from a heat wave, undoubtedly due to a natural, higher Pacific surface temperature:
If SST controls air temperature, the west coast of US, coasts of Chilem Argentina, Brazil & Australia are expected to be colder than normal.
Is my reasoning correct?

July 13, 2011 8:18 pm

Mr. Appell, so you are saying that those who constantly whine about the unreliability of models are now unskeptically embracing a study based on models and calling this study the last word on an issue? Yes, that is strange.

July 13, 2011 8:56 pm

[Snip. Use of the “denier” label is not allowed here, per site Policy. ~dbs, mod.]

July 13, 2011 9:07 pm

David Appell,
Provide solid proof of your vague hearsay assertions — or honestly admit that they are simply fabricated accusations no different than Islamists’ hurt feelings over Mohammed cartoons.
Produce solid, verifiable evidence, or STFU. Ball’s in your court, bub. Put up or shut up.

July 13, 2011 9:34 pm

The death threats against climate scientists have been widely acknowledged by several of them and reported on by many journalists. The Guardian, in particular, has seen them. One scientist had a dead animal dumped on their doorstep, according to ABC News. Some of the threats have been reported to the FBI.
It is pernicious, obnoxious, and dangerous for people here, especially Anthony Watts, to claim that these threats exist do not exist. It is of a kind, and only a step from being complicit.

Complicit? My goodness Appell you really have gone off a bend.
I’m familiar with these, but none of them show anything to make me believe they are real. I can just as easily create a list of complaints without email headers of any kind and “claim” that I get death threats here at WUWT or that I had a dead animal dumped on my doorstep.
This article for example, doesn’t even show any death threats.
And we are asked to take the claims of death threats at face value from the very people that conspired to break FOI laws? I think not. So far, you haven’t proved your case. If somebody shows me actual emails, like in climategate, then that would be evidence.
I’m sure you’ll run off to your blog now and write some faux outrage, as is your M.O.
– Anthony

July 13, 2011 10:10 pm

Mr. Appell, I read your post before it was censored (kinda of funny the censoring going on with this blog posting an article complaining about other sites censoring). Seems you provided the documentation Mr. Watts asked for. Could censorship and documentation by connected?

July 13, 2011 10:34 pm

Sceptical and David Appell –This paper just reinforces or agrees with what experienced meteorologists said at the time about the Russian heat wave. It was some ill informed climate scientists and MSM journalists who tried make a link with AGW , just to add more of their usual alarm.
In the same way the Brazilian floods were “used” ( as Jimbo has noted above). The top Brazilian met. guys were laughing in the press, at the time, over the stupid comments from the AGW side.

David Schofield
July 14, 2011 2:01 am

Sceptical and David Appell- I love the way you guys can openly discuss censorship, uncensored. Could you do that on Real Climate? At least here you can get your say eventually.
By the way at the end of the RHW the BBC/Met office weather reporter on the main news stated categorically that it was perfectly natural and caused by the jet stream positioning. Full stop.

John Marshall
July 14, 2011 2:56 am

This week ‘mostly’ next week ‘partly’ next month ‘totally anthropogenic’.

July 14, 2011 4:32 am

Regarding David Appell says:
July 13, 2011 at 6:59 pm
How ironic that CO2 Science would hawk a result that comes in-part from model simulations, when they have long list of studies showing that models are inadequate:
They write ( ” …there will be no way to know the climatic significance of either past or projected increases in the air’s CO2 content via the use of climate models.” (emphasis theirs)
David, this is not a well thought critcism. Models are a scientific tool that can be used, and, like any tool, misused. In climate science the models are misused.

July 14, 2011 4:39 am

David Appell says:
July 13, 2011 at 9:34 pm
One scientist had a dead animal dumped on their doorstep,

I have had several dead animals dumped on my doorstep. When are you going to decry that practice? Hypocrite? Look at the 3 fingers pointing back at you since you seem to only be concerned with death threats to people that agree with you – not to the other 7 billion people in the world.

Jim Barker
July 14, 2011 5:20 am

I’ve had many small dead animals dumped at my doorstep. My cat was not making threats!

kadaka (KD Knoebel)
July 14, 2011 6:04 am

While Googling for “climate scientist death threat” I came across a Deltoid posting (link to Google cache version) which featured much of the same non-evidence as Appell is emitting.
But down in the comments was posted ABSOLUTE PROOF of a Very Serious Death Threat against certain climate scientists (and many assorted political operatives):

7. Speaking of telling typos here is one created by Steve McIntyre three days ago:
“Everyone in IPCC WG3 should be terminated…” From the bottom of:
How’s that for a death(s) threat? But… Is it really a typo?
[cRR Kampen, NL]
Posted by: cRR Kampen | June 17, 2011 8:25 AM

Ah-ha! There it is, what those who are convinced of the certainty of CAGW can instantly easily recognize as a Serious Credible Death Threat, issued by none other than the (presumed) owner of one of the largest AstroTurfed Climate Denial Sites! What more EVIDENCE do you need?
In comparison there’s this bit from comment #24 “Posted by: Wow | June 17, 2011 10:57 AM” in response to a skeptical post:

Well, if a referendum on the question came out, I think we’d handily pass the judgement that you should hold your breath and that this WILL reduce the pollution of the earth.

We would handily pass judgment? Sound familiar?

Keith W.
July 14, 2011 7:39 am

David Appell says:
July 13, 2011 at 9:34 pm
One scientist had a dead animal dumped on their doorstep,

And he knows it was dumped rather than left by the neighborhood stray cat how?

July 14, 2011 7:44 am

@Jim Barker – Are you sure? 😉

July 15, 2011 5:23 am

Big heat wave expected to develop over Moscow the next couple of days, and stay in place potentially through the end of the month. If we see a repeat of 2010 conditions, it could allow the scientists to maybe find an anthropogenic connection to the weather. One year of crazy, record heat may be a fluke, but two in a row. C’mon now,
“During the upcoming 2 days in the European region of Russia, particularly in Moscow strong heat is expected, the Russian news agencies report.
According to the head of the meteorological service on 15-16 the anticyclone will be blocked. 31-33 degrees of heat is expected in that case which is higher than the norm with 7-8 degrees, it will remain for 15 days.
A lot of fires occurred there last summer because of the 30 degree heat.”

July 19, 2011 8:10 pm

[snip. ~dbs.]

David Ball
July 19, 2011 8:43 pm

AGW= the inability to stay on topic.

David Ball
July 19, 2011 8:46 pm

There was a dead muskrat in my neighbors window well. Is that sufficient to join the conversation?

Rational Debate
July 23, 2011 7:54 pm

Years ago I was I was living just outside a large metro area but in a quasi-rural setting, at the end of a dirt/gravel road. The nearest neighbors had several wild cats living right around their place. One day I was horrified to discover a headless young cat/large kitten in the middle of my driveway, right at the main entry gate. The kitten was quite literally decapitated, almost as if it’s head had just been sliced off. Frankly it was hard to imagine that anything other than a person had done it – but I sure couldn’t figure out WHY anyone would do such a thing.
Over the next few weeks, a couple more decapitated kittens appeared at about the same spot. This was pretty disconcerting, as I had my horses on the property and no one there while I was away at work… not to mention myself there alone when home, and a very beloved dog who was allowed out whenever she wished as long as I was home.
Then I found a mostly skeleton of what I assume was another kitten, hanging over the top of a six foot high fence post that was far closer to my home and the horses than those decapitated ones in the drive… That was REALLY weird.
Finally one day coming home I saw this huge owl sitting in the cedar trees right next to the lane & gate where those kittens had been. Out came the Audubon bird book, and low and behold the owl was pretty much the largest species in the area and is known for sometimes decapitating it’s prey, taking the head and leaving body behind…. including prey as large as a house cat! Even then I was skeptical, thinking there’s no way an owl could decapitate that cleanly. So I looked them up online a bit, and low and behold, found some photos that were proven owl decapitations that were every bit as ‘clean’ and unlikely looking as the kittens I’d found. Believe me, they sure didn’t look like something you would think a wild animal kill would look like, if you hadn’t run into this before.
I hated that the kittens were being killed that way, but have to say it was a huge relief to figure out that it wasn’t some deranged wacko human stalking me or hanging out just toying with the idea of hurting or killing my horses while I was away at work.
Long winded way of giving an example and agreeing that finding a dead animal on one’s step sure doesn’t necessarily mean that someone is threatening you – even when it may seem there couldn’t be any other explanation.
For that matter, it’s amazing what can manage to get inside your house – and it may be either dead or alive when you find it. I once walked into my bathroom, then back out and had the thought cross my mind “I don’t remember leaving a belt on the bathroom floor.” Stopped for a second and thought, “I KNOW I didn’t leave a belt there.” Go back in very carefully, and low and behold it was a very much alive snake, 2 or 3 ft. long. Heck if I could tell what it was and it looked as if it might be poisonous. Got it in a bucket and took it to the right gov. department to find out. It was a young black snake, at which age they sometimes still have markings and their head looks a little triangular (like poisonous snakes), and when they feel threatened they’re notorious for curling up and shaking their darned tails at you & looking like they’re about ready to strike (as this one sure had!). No rattles of course, but believe me, it’s still pretty disconcerting. Apparently they do it because if in dry leaves it can scare off animals who assume they’re rattlers. They get far less aggressive as they get older. I named him something ridiculous (for a snake) like Harold and released him in the run-in shed area.
Heck, if you have a doggy door, even finding something bigger than a snake or mouse inside your house wouldn’t mean someone had done it. Just hope what you find isn’t a live 7 ft alligator!

%d bloggers like this:
Verified by MonsterInsights