Russia's Fires & Pakistan's Floods: The Result of a Stagnant Jet Stream?

By Andrew Moseman | August 11, 2010 12:03 pm

Russia FiresThe fires in western Russia continue to burn. Though the overall area now ablaze has shrunk, the number of individual fires has actually risen today. The death rate in Moscow has doubled, and Russia is racing to stop the flames from spreading to areas still affected by radiation from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster a quarter-century ago.

While firefighting goes on, attention turns to the “why?” Russia‘s fire explosion has people wondering if there’s a bigger reason behind it. The topic seems particularly urgent because another major natural disaster is happening not so far away: in northern Pakistan, where exceptionally heavy monsoon rains have caused crushing floods. The big question–whether global warming is responsible–is still unanswered, but scientists do agree that a large weather pattern links the events.

According to meteorologists monitoring the atmosphere above the northern hemisphere, unusual holding patterns in the jet stream are to blame. As a result, weather systems sat still. Temperatures rocketed and rainfall reached extremes [New Scientist].

You’ve probably seen diagrams of the jet stream on weather charts, where a thick band represents its air currents that surge from west to east. However, New Scientist reports, a “blocking event” caused by west-pushing Rossby waves has slowed the jet stream’s flow. This happens from time to time, and it sets the stage for extreme conditions when weather systems hover over the same area.

Says Jeff Knight, climate scientist at the U.K. Met Office:

“Circulation anomalies tend to create warm and cool anomalies: while it has been very hot in western Russia, it has been cooler than average in adjacent parts of Siberia that lie on the other side of the high pressure system where Arctic air is being drawn southwards” [BBC News].

Pakistan also got stuck with a weather system that plunked down and wouldn’t move. The problem there, though, is that it’s monsoon season, and the weird circulation worsened that.

According to Knight, you’d expect to see more such extremes in a warming Earth. Though you can’t point to any one storm, drought, or other event and say “that’s because of global warming,” Russian President Dmitry Medvedev may have been moved by seeing his country on fire. He reportedly linked Russia’s current calamity to climate change in his public comments. According to the World Wildlife Fund’s Alexey Kokorin, that’s quite a step for the nation—though it’s one that’s measured in words.

“These are not brave statements for European leaders or Obama, but for a Russian president, it’s a new statement,” said WWF’s Kokorin. Even last year, Medvedev’s speeches on climate change were more about helping other continents like Europe and Asia without really focusing on the negative and severe impacts for Russia itself, he said [The New York Times].

Related Content:
DISCOVER: Fire Storms, on the science of wildfires
80beats: NOAA’s Conclusive Repots: 2000s Were the Hottest Decade on Record
80beats: More Floods, Droughts, And Hurricanes Predicted for a Warmer World
80beats: Globe-Warming Methane Is Gushing from a Russian Ice Shelf

Image: NASA Goddard

  • Rev. Daniel W. Blair

    Yes, there is a connection! The oil spills, hurricanes, floods, mudslides, and the global heat wave (which have been the cause of many fires, toxic smoke, and deaths) have many searching for answers. The internet is buzzing with articles and excellent blogs. But could it be simply the biblical sequence of God’s wrath being poured out upon the earth which is relevant to current events in today’s world. What if we are dealing with the wrath of God? Please understand the wrath of God is letting man slip deeper and deeper into the consequences of his own sin. Please visit my website. Rev. Daniel W. Blair

  • Brian Too

    This might be a stretch because it’s a long way away. And the Himalayas separate the two. However, is there any link between the Pakistan floods and the recent heavy flooding in China? Perhaps the jet stream has a role to play there too.

  • yourstruly

    For a wretched society like Pakistan’s this is indeed Allah’s wrath.
    Pakistanis have been creating havoc for sixty plus years claiming to be Allah’s thugs on earth.
    It is about time Allah put an end to their criminal conduct.
    And He will. He has commanded in the Koran that ‘there shall be no compulsion in the matters of religion’. (Chapter 3)
    Pakistanis disobeyed him and turned their country into a killing field in the name of religion. It is the only wretched country on earth where bombs are exploded in places of worship, and all in the name of Allah.
    Well, Allah still has earth quakes and rivers at His disposal.
    He knows how to take care of thugs who are maligning His name.

  • Larry

    Nonsense, this is clearly linked to the effect of significantly warming oceans. Please stop pretending there is no clear link when there is. Global warming has very certainly made these events worse, and likely far worse than they would have been otherwise.

  • AlexB

    hahaha look these comments…

    we have a perfect insight into the psychology of the human species here…
    we grasp wildly for any kind of meaning to make ourselves feel better in this chaotic and unpredictable universe. whether that meaning lies in science or religion.

    “…listening for patterns in the sound, of an endless static sea”

    such is our nature.

  • Mutiny2010

    The truth is plainer than the nose on your face and yet people just can’t see it. Russia, China and Pakistan are being “softened” right now in the lead up to the Oct/Nov invasion of Iran . . . by the weather manipulation capabilities of the “New World Order” Powers That Be. Global Warming/Climate Change is a farce propagated by the NWO PTB, so that you will buy into their “Carbon Tax” – a global side show – a distraction if you will – along the way towards implementing their “One World Government” which out of necessity for its acceptance, will require massive global population reduction (what better way than a global War as a means for achieving this) so that they can control the 500 million or so people remaining (Georgia Guidestones Prophecy) and post-WWIII find eager acceptance for the elimination of Judeo/Christian/Islamic “evil” religions in the process. For a major bell weather as to the start date for this war, watch for a major 9.0+ earthquake in Iran, most likely in the region around Tehran in the weeks leading up to the start of this War, the “final softening of the target” . . . initiated by the NWO PTB just as the recent Hatian Earthquake was . . . read more in my book delineating coming events, tell your friends! The best response to this coming war is for eveyone to refuse to turn up. Spread the word . . .

  • susan

    AlexB; I think that was a good comment, EXCEPT for the hahaha bit.. I would say the same words with more compassion for our human psychology & quest for meaning, rather than, seemingly, contempt. We may not agree AT ALL with people’s attempts to make themselves feel better,but why ridicule? What does that achieve? Well, I suppose it may deflect the ridiculer’s own unease so that they can temporarily feel better. We are ALL trying to cope, & recognizing that we ARE ALL in this world together could perhaps make our coping strategies a bit less cruel. Just my attempt to make sense.

  • Allen

    @Yourstruly: Why Allah, why not God or Bhagvan? You could not prevent yourself from promoting your brand of Islam, whatever it may be, even while showing your wrath against other Muslims. Please read Susan and AlexB. You may learn something.
    We are all in it together. And we are all trying to make sense of things happening around us. So show compassion, not wrath.

  • Allen

    @Yourstruly: Our fights – whether for faith, land or influence – are too trivial to affect weather patterns. Floods and earthquakes do not happen because God decides to punish a people. Similarly, regular weather patterns are not meant to reward another.
    The factors that cause floods and earthquakes in South Asia – monsoons, the mountains and their collision – are also responsible for creating the weather pattern that made your plains fertile and enabled human beings to live there. So think. Do not just follow your religious instinct to mark out people for God’s wrath.

  • the Centurion..

    The Pakistani disaster
    Might this not be an opportunity to eliminate their nuclear capacity (which will inevitably fall under terrorist control) ?
    The proposal – No aid whatsoever without first turning over all of their nuclear weapons capabilities for destruction.


    “ Sind and PuktunKhwa by opposing “Flood breaker Kalabagh Dam” , want to make Pakistan a failed state”.
    With the large number of deaths and destruction due to floods, continuous shortage of electricity in the country and continuous shortage of water at the time of need in rest of year has made the lives of people of Pakistan completely intoleratable. Now every one has started questioning the role of state and governments for bringing their lives in such a miserable condition, therefore it is necessary to analyze the root causes for all these miseries and painful condition from which people of Pakistan are suffering.
    Kalabagh Dam:
    Pending Kalabagh and other dams are main root cause for most of the problems of people of Pakistan, but in fact its situation and location just makes it the future pumping heart of Pakistani nation, due to its importance and ability to solve the most of the problems of People of Pakistan, enemies of Pakistan are very proactive in making opposition to this dam ,and the enemies of Pakistan are making use of tactics of ethnocentrism and provincialism for opposing this dam, so that people of Pakistan can never ever be able to solve their problems.
    Civilized nations of the world build and maintain large reservoirs of currency in banks, fuel oil in tanks, gas in pressurized tanks, food and other items of needs in ware houses and cold storages, but the enemies of Pakistan are not allowing the storage of water in dams which is one of the most basic necessity of humans, plants and animals, and just want that there should be no water management and development on the only and sole life line of Pakistan which is River Indus and they just want that its water should continue to waste in the sea. These enemies are very proactive in two provinces of Pakistan, one is Sindh and other is PuktoonKhwa.
    Some facts about this province are:
    Sindh producing more crops each year with more consumption of water at the same time making propaganda that Punjab is stealing water.
    Sindh producing rice crop in most of its arid and barren areas with no rain fall but still there is shortage of water and making propaganda that Punjab is stealing water.
    Sindh increasing irrigated land in Badin and at the same time making propaganda that there is intrusion of sea in Badin as Punjab is stealing water.
    Sindh wasting one crore acre feet of water in sea but still there is shortage of water and making propaganda that Punjab is stealing water.
    Sindh opposing any project on River Indus like Kalabagh Dam and any other project but still demanding more water.
    Yes, there is shortage of water for Chasma Jehlum Link Canal, For Kalabagh Dam, for Thal Canal,and as a whole For Punjab,
    but there is lot of water to waste in Arabian sea at Thatta and Badin,
    There is lot of water to grow rice in the Larkana so much that ruins of Moen Jo Daro are suffering from problem of water logging, the problem from which these ruins have not suffered during last 4500 years.
    There is lot of Indus water to waste in Manchar Lake, Kurlee Lake so much that now there is need to waste the water of these lakes in sea.
    There is lot of water to sink coastal areas of Badin and Thatta under Indus water.
    There is lot of water so much that we are pouring sweet water on saline Mangroo plants of sea.
    Had ample water being availabe , sindh would have been able to grow more crop.but will not allow other provinces of Pakistan to take one bucket of water and will not allow to grow one straw of grass, Simple is that.
    The credit stands with Sindh that despite obtaining ample water and ample crops its always ready to victimize and malign punjab, Kalabagh Dam, Thal Canal,and Chasma Jehlum canal , its making good use of politics of balckmailing and water.
    Preservation and storage of water in Kalabagh Dam will increase agriculture land,generation of electricity ,and will prevent wastage of sweet water and fertile sand in the sea .
    Advanced nations of the world are recycling and treating drain water for reuse while politician and Government of Sindh is wasting and polluting sweet water into the sea.
    USA and India have large number of rivers and fresh water reservoirs but instead of wasting their water in sea they are using saline water of sea for agriculture and other purposes but we Pakistanies have just one river and even then we are wasting that one by the foolish politicians and Government of Sindh.
    Israel and Saudi Arabia are using water of Dead Sea by desalination for their use so much that dead sea is drying and drying day by day but we pakistanies are wasting our sweet water into sea and making that saline what a unique type of crime and foolish act.
    Only by taking out water from sea can stop sea intrusion and by discarding more and more sweet water into sea will aggravate the problem of so called sea intrusion.

    On one side there is shortage of water in Pakistan on other side in Sindh there is wastage of water,cultivation of crops such as rice,sugar can and banana which are highly dependent on water and at the same time demanding wastage of water in sea and objecting even on preservation of water in Kalabagh, on use of water for agriculture in Punjab, if there is shortage of water then why sindh is cultivating rice,bannana and sugar can which are highly water dependent, if Punjab is not giving water then from where the water of Kulree ,Mancahr lakes have arrived, if Punjab is not giving water then how from Larkana to Thatta area is suffering from problem of water logging.
    Sindh wants punjab to obey its desire for wastage of water as it is mentioned in 1991 water agreement, Punjab Should stop people living along river Indus from Kalabagh to Sadiqabad not to use water for irrigation because Provincialism is more important than Humanity.
    As Sindh,balochistan and pukhtunkhwa are against Kalabagh Dam
    because as per Sindh LOGIC Thar Coal is better than Kalabagh as Kalabagh will emmit BLACK SMOKE and Thar Coal will emmit fresh air full of Oxygen.
    And as per Balouchistan Vision GAS and coal extracted from Balouchistan are one of the most clean source of energy and Kalabagh will pollute air and land resouces and people will drown in Kalabagh and no one is dying in the coal caves of Balochistan.
    And as per PuktunKhwa wisdom Royalty of Tarballa is so important that Pakistan can be broken for that but Kalabgh dam is not good looking as it is in Punjab.
    All provinces want Provincial autonomy but Punjab should open or close its canals , iirigate its land and construct Dams as per desire of other provinces and after asking from other provinces Because it is necessary for unity and prosperity of Pakistan as when there will be no agriculture,no electricity and no water then Pakistan will be more united and more prosperous.

    Failure of Punjab Govertnment:
    Government of Punjab has chronically failed in protecting the rights of people of Punjab. Which is evident from the fact that it has not made any efforts for the construction of Kalabagh Dam while Govt of Sind is very proactive even in wasting the water of river Indus in Arabian sea.If Punjab govt can not protect the rights of people living alongside river Indus,it will be better to separate out those areas from Punjab,so that those people can protect their rights themselves. From NFC award it is evident that Punjab Govt has sacrificed the rights of people just for pleasing those who always hate punjab. Moreover Punjab Govt has not raised any concern about the suffering of people of Punjab in Baluchistan,Karachi and Sind. Thar coal project will have adverse effects on each and every living organism,atmosphere,enviroment in Punjab but Punjab Govt foolish leaders has not shown any concern about that project.
    Due to incompetent Punjab Government , situation has so much deteriorated that other provinces which are very vocal about Provincial autonomy are interfering in the affairs of Punjab by violating provincial autonomy of Punjab , for example Sindh Province Government and Assembly has started to give suggestions to Punjab that which Canal should be kept opened or closed, which Dam (hydrel project ) should be constructed or not, and which land of Punjab should be cultivated or not, while Punjab Government is completely silent about such interference, while Sindh Government is busy in wasting River Indus water in Arabian sea which is a sin and crime against humanity but Punjab government is making no objection about such wastage.
    Punjab gopvernment and its water experts are also responsible for wastage of water in Sindh,
    As they never questioned or monitored that why Sweet water of Indus is being discarded in sea, which infact will be injurious and harmful for saline fishes and plants of sea.
    In Karachi it is very common observation that sea fishes do not survive in sweet water even for Minutes.
    Punjab Government never questioned from Sindh Government that why they are wasting sweet water for saline plants of Mangroos which very finely grow in saline water as on coastal areas of Karachi there is no sweet water but highly dense forest of Mangroos are present there even in front of Karachi Port Trust.
    Punjab never questioned from Sindh why large agricultuure area of Sindh about 38 % is suffering from water logging.
    Punjab never questioned from Sindh why Sindh is demanding sweet water for coastal areas while there are so many varities of both wheat and other plant which even can grow in saline land.
    Politicians of other provinces want to make Punjab a crippled province but foolish government of Punjab is not able to comprehend that, a sick ,crippled punjab wil be a liability and not an asset for Pakistan. Allowing and accepting wastage of River Indus water in sea in 1991 by Province of Sindh is a fatal and non forgivable crime of Punjab Government.
    Accepting wastage of River water in sea is like accepting wastage of wheat,rice,sugar and cotton in the sea.
    Lethargic Federal Government:
    Instead of understanding the mentality of enemies of PAKISTAN, Federal government is waiting for the consensus on issue of water and dams, which is simply impossible, because these enemies will never agree on any point which will be for the welfare of people of Pakistan.
    It is the responsibility of Federal Government to direct Sindh not to commit crime by polluting river Indus water by wasting it in saline sea water.
    It is the responsibility of Federal Government to direct Sindh not to waste water in province which is causing water logging in Sindh and causing damage to land.
    It is the responsibility of Federal Government to direct Punjab and Sindh goverment for construction of Dams like Kalabagh to preserve water and generation of electricity.
    It is the responsibility of Federal Government to make laws against polluting of River water as Sindh is polluting River water.
    It is the responsibility of Federal Government to make laws against wasting of River water as Sindh is polluting River water.
    It is the responsibility of Federal Government to make laws against polluting of water,land and air as Sindh is planning to do by polluting these by smoke of Thar coal.
    Sindh Government should make arrangement for more and more extraction of water from sea and desalination of sea water and use of sweet water in saline land should be completely restricted, its very strange that Karachi city government is trying to install plants of desalination for obtaining sweet water from sea for city while Sindh Government is wasting sweet water of Indus about one crore Acre feet water in the sea what a foolish act and what a crime against humanity.
    Those who adovcate wastage of River Indus in sea and oppose PRESERVATION AND STORAGE OF water at Kalabagh are infact the enemies of Pakistan.
    Logic that river water will stop the intrusion of sea is the most foolish Idea, on one side there is ONE MIGHTY SEA AND on other side there is a just one river coming from arid zone,The river will infact rise the level of sea ultimately leading to sea to spread on land and will further cause water logging and salinity of land.
    The main forest of Mangroves of Sindh coastal areas are located in Karachi but Sindh is not providing even drinking water to citizens of Karachi.
    If there is problem of salinity and sea intrusion on coastal areas of Sindh, there is need to eastablish salt Industry in that area instead of agriculture while by wastage of river water in sea we are wasting sweet water and also wasting salt of the land which is an important mineral and pouring river water in sea there will be just further rise in sea water and more intrusion of sea water in all coastal areas.

    The simple logic is that those who do not want dams like Kalabagh to be built, they are enemies of the country or at least don’t want Pakistan to have vibrant economy and social peace. The forces and lobbies that opposed Pakistan and those that are stuck up in their narrow grooves of provincialism would not like Pakistan to become an economically viable country. The weak economy foments societal discontent and political instability. That is the spectacle that patriotic Pakistanis have been witnessing since the inception of Pakistan.
    Disease of Provincialism in Politicians of NWFP and Sindh is mainly responsible for floods,power and water shortage mayhem and the resultant chaos in the society due to tormenting blackouts and long power outrages and death due to floods.
    Written by: M.AKRAM KHAN NIAZI.

  • scott

    Oh sweet Jesus, I had no idea there were so many religious wackos on here. That might be the doom of the world, all these wackos nut case desire to make sure everyone believes what they do, at the expense of everyone and everything. Relgious wackos are worse, more dangerous to our survival than global warming, oil spills, floods and fires.

  • Katharine

    Wow, that is some weapons-grade derp in the comments section. Bad, bad 80beats, your comment moderation sucks.

  • Zafar Rahmani

    Those proposing the “Hand of God” in natural disaster please explain why is God so “Off his target”. How come God ended up killing poor people and not those who are corrupt. God needs to do more “Target shooting” to improve his accuracy.

  • anonymous

    trolls trolling in a sea of troll.

  • Poststructuralist

    I like the way one of the comments above ridicules narratives concerning a God for the disaster, but then blindly accepts global warming as “truth” and not an interpretation. Global warming has animism all over it. It is as “wacko” as twisted theologies. It is another God to replace a God that adherents choose not to believe in.

  • Rehana

    I had thought it was Allah’s wrath too but I have finally realised that it was actually Allah’s only way of uniting Pakistani’s worldwide. Lets b positive and take this as an opportunity to do good and promote peace.

  • Mohammad Khan Sial

    As per editorial of an English daily (Sept 25, 2010) entitled “Chinese help”, 110 million people in China are recently affected by devastating flood and land slides (despite having dams there).

    PM Gilani has already said: “Had Kalabagh dam in place, devastating flood could have been averted.” (Despite one spate of flood was 100 MAF versus proposed Kalabagh dam’s capacity which was only 6.1 MAF).

    In order to avert devastation of Chinese flood further, only one option is left that Prime Minister Gilani may convince China to build Kalabagh dam in Punjab as it may avert floods devastation in China!!
    Say NO to Kalabagh dam and YES to Pakistan.

    – Building KBD is an effort to weaken Pakistan as 3 out of 4 Provincial Assemblies have passed about 10 resolutions against construction of KBD in Punjab.

    – Punjab is trying to prove, people of three out of four provinces are enemies of Pakistan and also themselves. This is highly objectionable effort on part of Punjab.

    – In the past Punjab played the same game and compelled “majority” (56% population) to get independence from “minority” – East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).

    Punjab must learn lesson from the history and stop treating rest three provinces as their “colonies”.

  • Dzianis

    Nobody knows exactly what that was.


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