Russia is on fire

By Phil Plait | August 10, 2010 11:33 am

I had heard that there were severe and extensive fires raging out of control in Russia, but I had no idea how bad it was until I saw this picture:

Russia_on_fire

This image was taken by the European Space Agency’s Envisat Earth-observing satellite. Moscow is in the lower left corner of the frame, and the field of view is several hundred kilometers across. Dozens of plumes from forest and peat bog fires can be seen scattered everywhere.

That area of the world is experiencing record heat, with temperatures over 35° C, far higher than usual. That’s dried out the region, making it a tinderbox for fires. Smoke blowing over Moscow is making pollution ten times normal amounts.

When I lived in California, a fire in a town about 25 kilometers away made life difficult for us; the smoke was awful. I imagine things must be incredibly bad in Russia right now, and I hope very much that these fires can be put under control as rapidly as possible.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Pretty pictures
MORE ABOUT: Envisat, ESA, fires, Moscow

Comments (67)

  1. Jeff

    good article,

    I too experienced a fire here near the Everglades that raged for a month and I thought I’d die of lung poisoning from the smoke. I literally had to cancel some of my classes when I couldn’t talk properly, and getting my mail outside was impossible. I think that was in 1996. It doesn’t take much, just a prolonged hot drought and these things can get out of control.

    But from a point of view of forestry, fires are a good thing, and are necessary for the long term health of the forest.

    Nature will always do its thing, since the big bang, and always will; and maybe these days with a little help from the human species.

  2. AliCali

    “That area of the world is experiencing record heat…” Boy, imagine how hot it would be if Global Warming was real!

    Seriously, though, I shouldn’t use that line. Using one year’s record heat is not a good basis to convince people about Global Warming, because when a cold spell comes, that’ll convince the same people that there is no Global Warming. Long-term trends are the appropriate measure, which is too bad, as time scales can be lost on humans. It’s easier to point out one heat spell than pointing out temperature trends over several decades; especially when many people don’t understand the difference between decades and centuries or millenium (which is apparently lost on people when they counter human-caused Global Warming by bring up warming spells from the past).

    But back to Russia, I hope their firefighters are experienced in these types of fires. I live through them every year in Southern California, and there really is a special skill in fighting, and especially planning the fight, against wildfires.

  3. Cindy

    An article in yesterday’s NYT said that Moscow’s morgues are overflowing. Between the heat (most Muscovites don’t have AC) and the smoke, a lot of people are dying.

  4. The day before yesterday, the coverage of climate/weather related catastrophes took 11 minutes out of 15 minutes of the major German national TV news (Tagesschau): flood in Germany, Poland and Czech Republic, flood in Pakistan, wildfires in Russia, landslides in India.

    I am afraid that we have to get used to this type of news.

  5. DrFlimmer

    A few minutes ago I read this interesting article on NewScientist.com. It explains the unusual severe weather patterns across the world. Very interesting!

    Hopefully this weather pattern begins to move again. Some regions need rain, while others had quite enough! This has to change again soon!

  6. QuietDesperation

    Sympathies from Southern California, Russia. You might want to stay indoors for a bit.

    Maybe we can loan you our fire fighting DC-10. It is awesome.

  7. Evan

    I think this video shows it pretty well from the ground. Although, why people are trying to drive through a wildfire is beyond me.

  8. Coda

    I think we’re missing the real issue here…

    …are these fires visible from Sarah Palin’s house?

  9. ssurell

    To us “DUMMIES” out here, could you please, PLEASE tell us what miles or feet it is in. I do not understand the metric system so I MUST be stupid. Again PLEASE tell us ignorant people who like your web site, use mile and feet. PLEASE!

  10. Victor

    I now live in Germany, but I’m russian and my mother and wife are now in Moscow. They complain that it’s really terrible there now. They can not see the ground from windows on 9th floor. Also lots of fuss is going on on russian part of the internet now, since people really believe that unwise decision of the goverment to save some money via cutting budget for ministry of foresting by factor of 10 made 2 years ago is the main reason why this all is happening now. Overall organization of firefighting is also wildly criticized now. In 1972 even stronger wildfires were taken under control in less than 2 weeks, and now it’s already 2 mounts and no sign of happy end is in sight :( Pretty sad.

  11. @8 ssurell:

    Here ya go:

    Click my name for a distance translator.

  12. Brooke

    @ssurell:
    To convert km to miles, multiply by 0.6 (or by 3/5, whichever is easier for you). Good luck.

  13. Alex

    Hi from Russia. Thank you guys for your wishes, we’re trying hard to survive and seems that we almost managed to do it. Thanks for the article, Phil! There are some fans of your work here, as well.

  14. Nodgarb

    ssurell – http://www.metric-conversions.org/length/kilometers-to-miles.htm (it took 2 seconds to google…)

    I remember the California fires and how much that sucked. Hope the Russians get it under control.

  15. terry

    there’s plenty of conversion sites on the web ssurell. Or you could use a spreadsheet, many of which have the function that does it for you.

  16. Gus Snarp

    100 Kilometers = 62 miles. So several hundred kilometers = several times 62 miles. Let’s call it 500 Kilometer = 311 miles.

    25 Kilometer = 16 miles.

    35 degrees C = 95 F.

    You should download this tool, it’s really handy for us stupid people: http://joshmadison.com/software/convert-for-windows/

  17. One news station reported that much of the fire is in areas where there are peat bogs which the russian ‘harvest’ for heating in the winter. These bogs are up to 8 feet deep and are not easy to put out.

    I fought forest fires in Oregon in 1970 when I got out of the Army. I cut fire breaks with a bulldozer, made good money, and had trouble breathing for six months afterwards.

  18. Hmm. Maybe they should use a nuclear bomb to stop the bog fires. No, wait. That was oil leaks. Oh well, what the heck. Might as well try nuking them.

    But seriously, this sort of thing is an excellent opportunity for the world to start pulling together a wee bit. The U.S. should be offering whatever help it can.

  19. ssurell, no need to cop an attitude. :) It’s not the rest of the world’s fault that we stick with a hopelessly cumbersome system that has no rhyme or reason.

    And Google is your friend: http://www.worldwidemetric.com/measurements.html

  20. Weather related tragedies are nothing new and will never go away. That is, until we learn to control it and use it to dominate the entire planet, mwa ha haa… ahem. What?

    I’m just saying I remember 20 years ago a friends mom saying the world was going to end because it was a particularly stormy spring or something. Well, it didn’t end because she was apparently talking about some other puny planet.

    They’ll continue to be reported because they always have been. Sadly, tragic events make for good ratings. -_-

    Glad we have eyes in the sky to observe this stuff. It seems like a great tool to assist in responding to such things.

  21. Liz

    Can you imagine – extreme heat, fires and no air conditioning? If they open the windows to try to cool off the house, they get lungfuls of smoke. I’m not sure which is worse…

  22. Zixinus

    The fact that the authorities in Russia are incapable of fighting the fires (more or less) just shows how much has Russia decayed and have become an inverted parody of what it once was as the USSR.

    There is an enormous amount of firefighters sent to battle the problem (at least over 10 thousand) but still not enough. Various military sites had to move their munitions and ammo and other explosives to a more distant, more secure sight. Chernobly is about to haunt from the past, as fires spreading to that area might spread and put any lying radioactive material into the air again. People in Moscow are going into their offices (or other minimal-wage paying workplace) with surgical masks (or something similar) to withstand the stench they have to endure. This year’s wheat harvest is at danger of being burned down.

    Meanwhile, Hollywood still hasn’t gotten over the fact that the Berlin Wall fell and that Russia is no longer a badguy.

  23. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    It is a tragedy. It will not be as bad next time, if these incidences become more regular. But it is still deadly.

    Long-term trends are the appropriate measure, which is too bad, as time scales can be lost on humans. It’s easier to point out one heat spell than pointing out temperature trends over several decades;

    Yes, but the AGW is so pronounced now that articles talk about attributing interannual effects to it with 95 % certainty. I.e. the climate scientists have started to observe precisely such things as each year’s “record heat” (max heat) as it is trending as evidence for AGW.

    And enough trend can now be much shorter than the several decades of classical climate science, again thanks to the strong signal. The slippery slope of denialist arguments have become much slipperier and sloper lately.

  24. Jeff Masters blog on the weather underground site has been doing a good job of covering this.

    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=1571

    If you want a good weather blog, he is one of my favorites.

  25. JoeSmithCA

    Sheesh you guys make it sound like Russia is doomed to turn into a giant barren desert of ash by next week (I’ll give it a month).

    Russia is has a land area of 17075400km (moohoohahaha@ssurell) and not all of that will can or will burn–just all the unimportant stuff like homes, farms and nuclear waste contaminated areas (which apparently is most of Russia).

  26. V. V. Williams

    To ssurell upthread: In your Google search box enter “xxxkm in miles” or “xxm in feet” You’ll get the conversion immediately. And why not spend a few weeks in Canada or Mexico, you might learn something about how the rest of the world operates. It’s not a matter of stupidity; it’s a matter of ignorance.

  27. WJM

    I don’t see Moscow at lower left.

  28. AliCali

    @ Torbjoern Larsson, OM (#16)

    “Yes, but the AGW is so pronounced now that articles talk about attributing interannual effects to it with 95 % certainty. I.e. the climate scientists have started to observe precisely such things as each year’s “record heat” (max heat) as it is trending as evidence for AGW.”

    I get concerned with these kinds of predictions. There could be ten years of record-breaking heat, but then one year with normal or kinda cold temperatures, and all sorts of people will say, “See, global warming is a myth!”

  29. Once again, our technological prowess, in this case satellite photography, is way ahead of our ability to do much of anything, i.e., put out mammoth forest fires. As so often happens, the most one can do is watch in bleak astonishment.

    ssurell — here’s a handy dandy metric conversion site…
    http://www.worldwidemetric.com/measurements.html

  30. Zixinus

    JoeSmithCA

    You are not funny. I already mentioned what the fire IS doing in my previous post. This is not just a regular wildfire, this one is spiraling out of control and destroying almost everything in its path. Just because Russia is sparsely inhabited does not mean that those areas that ARE affected will do minor damage. People are already dying and the fires cannot be stopped.

  31. Robert E

    Peat bog fires are horribly difficult to put out, as a large part of the fire is underground.
    CNN has a figure of 700/day dieing in Moscow.

  32. QuietDesperation

    use mile and feet. PLEASE!

    Man, I walked for miles and my feet hurt.

    How’s that?

  33. @ zixinus:

    Meanwhile, Hollywood still hasn’t gotten over the fact that the Berlin Wall fell and that Russia is no longer a badguy.

    True, but it is a pretty good example of a Thugocracy, and Thugocracies tend to be a little lax in the “take care of the little people” department.

  34. 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 at http://www.revelation-truth.org . Rev. Daniel W. Blair author of the book Final Warning

  35. Alex Besogonov

    “Hmm. Maybe they should use a nuclear bomb to stop the bog fires. No, wait. That was oil leaks. Oh well, what the heck. Might as well try nuking them.”

    Actually, there is a Russian inventor claiming that fires can be put out by explosions ;)

    I was in Moscow yesterday (I live in Kiev, was on a business trip). It’s VERY bad, air is smelling awful, it’s literally hard to breathe. Fortunately, I spent most of time in air-conditioned rooms.

  36. @ Alex besogonov:

    Actually, it’s a fairly standard technique for oil well fires. Big explosion sucks up all the oxygen, releases a burst of carbon dioxide, poof! Out goes the fire.

    Of course it really only works on point-source fires. Somehow I don’t think this one counts.

  37. Daniel J. Andrews

    use mile and feet. PLEASE!

    Exactly! And start using cubits, furlongs, hogsheads, barrels, chains, and drams too. None of this UN metric system–its unconstitutional and a creeping socialist plot. ;)

  38. Anchor

    Well, AliCali #2, perhaps you might admit that an increasing incidence of regionally RECORD heat spells, versus RECORD cold spells – not to mention regionally RECORD precipitation and RECORD drought events associated with all seasons over a year – kinda sorta points to a GLOBAL change with an increasing incidence of REGIONAL extremes taking place, would you not?

    And you might even admit that, while tiresomely yet again pointing out one or even several examples isn’t sufficient justification to finger any long-term global change, that very nearly ALL of these RECORDS seem to be alarmingly scrunched up within the span of the last decade or two…which is a GLOBAL event.

    Oh, and by the way: the RECORD of extremities currently now appears to be pushing out into new territory, year after year. Can’t exactly ignore that in your admissions either…can you?

    I now believe I understand the thinking behind deniers of human-caused climate change: they simply have no abiding incentive for understanding the difference between a local event and a global one. All you REALLY want is to gain an ‘advantage’, period. A ‘political’ argument is one that may easily be effective. Propaganda always is. But it certainly isn’t a means to any truth. Truth means NOTHING when one is attempting to acquire an advantage.

    Hell, all you have to do is look at how investors so idiotically play the market to see how clueless they are in parsing the market details (their own personal investments) from the global market environment – the latter which can crash catastrophically, taking everybody down with it…despite the efforts of any single player. (Read “LOCAL” weather vs “GLOBAL” climate).

    Similarly, one can appreciate how climate change deniers persistently look upon their own localized shares to “demonstrate” how no linkage can be made to the overall investment landscape. And they would be right, as long as they stuck to the provincially local viewpoint. Here’s the ignorant consensus: any small part has little or nothing to do with the whole, and small players (you know, like voting citizens) have no impact on the overall.

    Over and beyond that analogy, one is amazed at just how flagrantly ignorant a person can be when it comes to a crisis of global proportions of ANY kind: if a large proportion of small-time private investors do not synch up to each other, the potential consequences are grim for them all. Whenever an overturn takes place, the wounded flail acid at the giants (um, or at each other) for having gotten them into such a fix…yet the giants have the budget surplus and propagandistic incentive to entice the little players into the game, the better to fleece their earnings with in the first place. The giants just get bigger simply because they are in charge…the gambler ALWAYS gets ripped.

    Yet almost nobody thinks that the global economy/stock market can’t recover or be somehow fixed to prevent such extreme crashes. And almost everyone involved in the economy is certain that measures can be taken to ameliorate these vexing problems. Whether everyobody agrees on the ways to fix it is an entirely different story, but in the meantime you can bet your bottom dollar that the uncertainty is well exploited by those super-wealhy corporate concerns who never flinch at yet another opportunity.

    You will admit that much, yes?

    I thought so.

    Well then…

    Ask yourself this hypothetical question: let’s just say greenhouse gas emissions don’t do anything at all, and suppose the Sun for some odd fantasy reason has become temporarily 2% or 4% hotter within the last half century. There’s no evidence for it, but evidence has nothing to do with the purpose of this simple hypothetical ‘thought experiment’ exercise.

    Just suppose the hypothetical for the moment. Suppose it as a ‘natural ocurrence in the Sun’ – a kind of astrophysical hiccup that might happen every 10 or 100 million years, or whatever, lasting ‘only’ for several hundred or thousand years before the Sun reverts back to its ‘normal’ state.

    Then consider how our global economy and investments would be stricken by the hypothetical “heat-wave hiccup” from the Sun…

    What would you honestly think?

    First: We certainly would have no control over the Sun. It’s gonna do whatever its gonna do, right?

    Second: We certainly have the technology and the economic wherewithal to lessen the impact on our planet by engaging in ways to reduce the heat influx, until such time as the Sun relents and we can ostensibly resume ‘normal’ operations.

    Suppose it was true. If over that time scientists had found out that the Sun was exercising some peculiar ‘heat wave’ burp – over which we have no control – wouldn’t you and people around the world, including climate change deniers in the ‘real world’, have spit fire and political hell-storm to push their governments to employ whatever reasonable measures necessay to protect and preserve or at least ameloriate the potential damage to our planet and economic investments whilst the Sun was ‘naturally’ doing its thing?

    Back to the real world, in which it has been demonstrably shown over and over ad nauseam that humans have boosted the level of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere which has – SUPRISE – raised global temperatures to a level that is perfectly consistent with the RECORD EXTREMES our planet has been experiencing within the last few decades. It had already become noticeably worse following WWII 65 years ago, but it has gotten 10 times worse only within the last dozen years. Anybody who doesn’t wish to see that information or dismisses it as a “natural ocurrence” is a consummate fool.

    And doesn’t understand the first thing about just how powerful an influence the oil corporations have – not only commercially on the population, but on the very mechanisms of governments.

    The problem with deniers is that they do NOT consider scientific evidence of ANY kind worthy to inform their opinions. They would rather rest on their laurels of a big loud mouth, unattached to anything resembling a hard-working brain informed by actual evidence. Exactly like the legion of private investors who bought into what corporate con artists told them would make them money in the future, deniers listen to corporate-funded propaganda to give them a warm fuzzy feeling that science doesn’t know a hill of beans. The fact that you deniers do not ever ONCE admit that the scientific evidence involved EVER informs your opinions makes you and those deniers like you dispicable beyond all endurance.

  39. Anchor

    Rev, #37, with all due respect, there is absolutely NOTHING in what we observe ANYWHERE that requires the agency of your god to perform.

    Any more than you yourself might attribute to an excess of gas from having eaten too many beans.

  40. Mark P

    That area of the world is experiencing record heat, with temperatures over 35° C, far higher than usual. That’s dried out the region

    Heat does not cause dryness. It’s plenty hot in Fiji and it never gets dry. In the meantime we get summer fires in my area when it doesn’t rain enough, without temperatures ever getting very high at all. It’s lack of rain that causes dryness.

    The weather has more or less stopped moving in western Russia, with the result very little rain has arrived and large periods of clear skies mean accompanying heat.

    As part of that, other bits of Russia have been seeing lows. No-one one lives much in northern Siberia, so it hasn’t been a bother, but one should not extrapolate a local heatwave and drought too much. The relationship of all this to global warming is fraught to say the least.

  41. AliCali

    @ Anchor (#41):

    “Well, AliCali #2, perhaps you might admit…[and pretty much the whole post].”

    What in the hell are you talking about? I could point out a few items, but I first want you to go back and read my post again (the second paragraph concerning Global Warming). Without launching into another 1,075-word attack, please tell me how you perceive the point of my post. Be sure to read the whole paragraph.

  42. AliCali

    @ Rev. Daniel W. Blair (#37).

    Hello, Reverend Blair. I took a quick look at the site, and it seems to state that all of the recent disasters point to the end of the world according to the Bible, and all signs point to 12/21/2012 as being the final date.

    I want to be sure I understand the statement. If the Bible is correct, then the world is coming to an end by 2012. Is that the statement you make?

    So what if the world does not end? Does this mean the Bible is wrong? I want to be sure I understand your position correctly. So many times, I hear something like, “I survived the car crash, that proves God exists.” So does that mean if the person did not survive the car crash, that would prove God didn’t exist?

    If you’re laying out a claim, be sure there’s an actual conclusion based on whether or not the claim holds true. The Bible states that, with all the disasters, the world will end in 2012. So again, if the world does not end, does that mean the Bible is wrong?

    Or am I misunderstanding?

  43. Mark Hansen

    Rev. Blair, I have a few questions. December 21, 2012: Is that at the international date line, a few degrees ahead or behind it, or is it when all countries have gone through Dec. 21? Julian or Gregorian? Do Britain and Russia get a few days grace to let their previous calendar adjustments line up? Do nations that don’t use US nomenclature for writing dates get a “get out of jail free” card? Here in Australia we don’t use the 12/21/12 method of writing calendar dates but 21/12/12. Does that mean we buy the farm instead on the 12th December (12/12/12)?

    Gotta love prophecies that are aimed exclusively at an American market.

  44. Messier Tidy Upper

    I wonder how that smoke will affect the climate – if there is enough of it will the smoke from these Russian fires act as a negative (restoring) feedback that cools the region or even globe by reflecting away sunlight and thus reducing heating? Nuclear Winter & asteroid impact theory, I think, suggest that large amounts of smoke and ash can dramatically cool things down – albeit on a much grander scale – therefore what will all this smoke do?

    Will it block sunlight and lower temps? Or will the burnt area act as an escalating positive feedback mechanism and soak up more heat because its black and thus absorbing rather than reflecting energy? Plus you’ve burnt carbon and released it from storage in the forests and also reduced the forests ability to store C02. Perhaps these factors will balance out?

    Global warming is real but I’m not sure how “catastrophic” the Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming will really be.

    It is cause for concern.

    There is a very strong 97-98% consensus of climatologist experts affirming the reality of AGW.

    But just as the scientists become ever more certain of the reality of (C?)AGW, doubt in the reality and severity of (c?)AGW among the general public (at least for the USA, Oz and many other nations) has risen to new heights.

    Due in large part to some out-of-context emails that have been exxaggerated and spun by the media and self-professed “climate skeptics.” Plus some high profile Fear Uncertainty & Doubt mongering. Plus the complete lack of political action and will to act on this issue and the peredictabel if disappointing failure of nations to agree at such things as the Copenhagen summit.

    The scientists better have this wrong. (C?)AGW had better not be as bad as predicted. Because we will NOT be acting significantly to mitigate or stop (C?)AGW for some years yet and that’s now just the stark reality.

    We’re going to have to place our hope in adapting and using technological fixes eg. geoengineering, perhaps building a space sunshade, feeding the plankton in the Southern Ocean large amounts iron or whatever to increase their Co2 uptake or something.

    @37. Rev. Daniel W. Blair : There were “88 reasons” to think the “Rapture” was due in 1988. It didn’t come – what makes you think your prediction is likely to prove any more likely? ;-)

    People have been predicting “The End is Nigh” throughout history. We’re still here. Go figure. :roll:

    PS. Doesn’t the Bible say something about “No man will know the hour!” [Of Apocalypse / Rapture - ed.]” Doesn’t that make trying to predict the End aka the 2nd Coming sorta blasphemous and unBiblical in itself? How do you reconcile that verse with what you’re saying? Just curious.

  45. Messier Tidy Upper

    There is a very strong 97-98% consensus of the climatologist experts affirming the reality of AGW.

    The source for that climatologists conscensus percentage figure is :

    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/06/04/1003187107.abstract

    Thanks go to MartinM (comment # 75 – August 3rd, 2010 at 11:49 am) here :

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/08/03/new-study-clinches-it-the-earth-is-warming-up/comment-page-5/#comment-287597

    BTW. Are you there Buzz Parsec? Did you see the reply you requested from me on how I eventaully changed my mind on reality of AGW here – comment # 152 :

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/08/03/new-study-clinches-it-the-earth-is-warming-up/comment-page-5/#comment-287735

    & with linked comments # 188-189-190 there?

  46. Russian researcher: Moscow’s heat wave the result of secret U.S. “climate weapon”

    It has been unusually hot in Russia this summer, and a Russian researcher asks whether this heat wave is the result of a secret U.S. “climate weapon”; the author writes that “climate weapons may be reaching their target capacity and may be used to provoke droughts, erase crops, and induce various anomalous phenomena in certain countries”.

    See more: http://aleksey-galan.blogspot.com/2010/08/russian-researcher-moscows-heat-wave.html

  47. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ Rev. Daniel W. Blair (#37).

    From your blog post on the spill :

    It has already been suggested that the oil spill which looks very much like dead man’s blood could be the second bowl of God’s wrath poured out upon the world during the Great Tribulation. The Bible says, “The second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it turned into blood like that of a dead man, and every living thing in the sea died” (Revelation 16:3).

    So *British Petroleum* is the second angel?

    The Gulf of Mexico is the entire sea? Plus er .. bad though its been I don’t think *every* living thing even in the Gulf of Mexico has died.

    Plus *does* oil really look like the blood of dead people? How do you know? I would’ve thought that was the case only if the dead people are really androids! ;-)

    Besides oil is NOT blood is it?

    Summing up – Yeesh. :roll:

    It seems to me like you’re drawing a ve-ery long bow indeed there & I’d have to say that I think you are giving your religion a bad name by spouting such nonsense. :-(

  48. When I lived in Moscow, the city was often choked in peat smoke from wildfires all summer. It was irritating, but this looks much, much worse than usual.

    Poor people.

  49. Ray

    We wouldn’t have these wildfire problems if we just paved everything over.

  50. Markle

    Umm, Anchor, Re: #2

    I think you needs to go get your sarcasm detector checked. I think the snark/humor circuit is out of balance again.

    Perhaps it’s mine, but I think Anchor was making your points in far fewer words, WITHOUT being an a$$#OL3.

    @#9 Quiet Desperation:
    They’ve got 9 pretty awesome Be-200 Altairs:

    and two Il-76s outfitted with water gear. And then they have their share of smaller equipment.

    As I understand it, these aren’t all simple forest fires, but a lot of them are peat fires, so that it is actually burning under the soil.

  51. Messier Tidy Upper

    In other possibly Global Warming related news :

    http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/1324677/Huge-ice-island-threatening-shipping

    A big chunk of ice has broken away from Greenland.

    Greenland’s glaciers pump out thousands of icebergs into Arctic waters every year, but scientists say this is the biggest in the northern hemisphere since 1962.

    Of course, we can’t say this *is* caused by global warming & it does happen naturally anyhow but still ..

  52. Blaidd Drwg

    The local news station reported yesterday that temps in Texas are cooler than normal. Ergo, global warming must be a myth, since if one part of the most important country IN THE WORLD is cooler, then that logically follows that the whole Earth must be also cooler – the record heat in most of the rest of the US, and Russia, and the Arctic, and Greenland, and most of Europe, and, and, and does not matter – so say the congresscritters wth (R) by their names at least…

  53. Paul in Sweden

    @49. Messier Tidy Upper Says:
    August 11th, 2010 at 2:26 am

    There is a very strong 97-98% consensus of the climatologist experts affirming the reality of AGW.

    The source for that climatologists conscensus percentage figure is :

    -http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/06/04/1003187107.abstract

    - Study questions credentials of climate-change skeptics
    “Based on databases compiled by James Prall, a systems administrator at the University of Toronto’s electrical and computer engineering department, the study analyzed the publishing background of 1,372 academics, concluding that at least 97 per cent of climate change researchers support evidence that humans are responsible for causing global warming.

    The paper was authored by William Anderegg, a graduate student at Stanford University’s biology department, along with Jacob Harold, Stephen Schneider and Prall, in order to compare the discrepancy between mainstream media coverage of controversies or debates about global warming with the actual research in scientific journals.

    “We really felt that this was a troubling disconnect and we were hoping to find some way to really synthesize clearly what experts really felt and what experts have really come to believe due to all the evidence they’ve seen and worked with and the data they’ve presented,” said Anderegg, who is working on his PhD.

    The study noted that a series of sweeping high-profile statements criticizing action against climate change that recently appeared in the media were signed by hundreds of academics who had limited expertise on the issue since they haven’t published peer-reviewed research on global warming, but were still managing to cause confusion in the population about scientific evidence.

    “A vocal minority of researchers and other critics contest the conclusions of the mainstream scientific assessment, frequently citing large numbers of scientists whom they believe support their claims,” said the study. “This group, often termed climate change skeptics, contrarians, or deniers, has received large amounts of media attention and wields significant influence in the societal debate about climate change impacts and policy.”

    The 1,372 academics were selected from scientific assessment reports as well as the prominent multisignatory public statements in support or against the mainstream theory. That list was then reduced to 908 researchers who had published at least 20 peer-reviewed papers on climate change science.”
    -http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Study+questions+credentials+climate+change+skeptics/3183069/story.html

    The study used google scholar exclusively in English, is flawed and only serves as a blacklist. Pure propaganda, it is worthless.

    The 97 percent study prior that is normally cited by eco-activists comes down to 75 out of 77 individuals(who felt they were climate scientists) of the 3146 respondents out of 10257 earth scientists invited to respond to an online survey, who answered “yes”, to the question “Do you think human activity is a significant?”
    -http://tigger.uic.edu/~pdoran/012009_Doran_final.pdf

    There is your great 75 climate scientist consensus that believe human activity is significant.

    IMO, unless a scientist is an activist they would avoid participation in such studies like the plague. This is especially true now with the publicity surrounding the blacklist in the late eco-activist Stephen H. Schneider’s study that you cited above.

    Regardless, consensus is not science.

    On the fires…

    Russia’s Wildfire Disaster: Fury Grows over Moscow’s Failures and Mounting Deaths – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International
    “For several days, the government avoided admitting just how serious the fires had become. Moscow only accepted aid from abroad on Tuesday, when fire-fighting planes arrived from Ukraine and Azerbaijan. Italy sent more on Wednesday. The fires have been caused by a heat wave that has hit Russia this summer. Since the beginning of July temperatures have constantly been well above 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit), and there is no prospect of cooler weather any time soon.

    However, the Russian government shares at least some of the blame for allowing the fires to spread so quickly. During Vladmir Putin’s presidency, the forestry service was practically dismantled. The 70,000 forest rangers who might have registered the fires and even been able to put them out had all been let go.

    And the fire-fighting infrastructure has also been scandalously neglected. There are only 22,000 professional fire fighters in the whole of Russia, compared to more than 27,000 in Germany, a far smaller country. And there is nothing like the system of volunteer fire fighters, such as the one in Germany that encompasses 1 million people. In addition, Russia’s fire-fighting vehicles and equipment are often outmoded. Many people in Russia’s provinces have had to defend their villages and homes against the flames on their own, at times using their bare hands.”
    -http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,710291,00.html

    Fires unchecked will burn.

  54. jfb

    @Blaidd Drwg:

    The local news station reported yesterday that temps in Texas are cooler than normal.

    I’d like to know where; we’ve broken 100 pretty much every day since Aug 1 in Central TX with almost uninterrupted sun until just today (it just finished raining here and I’m a little freaked out by it). Normal is mid- to high-90s, which may not sound like that much of a difference, but it’s huge, especially over multiple days.

    I remember when wildfires in Mexico sent a plume of smoke up through TX and the southwest (’98? ’99?); the sky was permanently overcast, and everything smelled like a fireplace. And we got off easy. Can’t imagine what it’s like in Moscow.

  55. Richard Woods

    From NASA Earth Observatory:

    “Carbon Monoxide over Western Russia”

    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=45150&src=eoa-iotd

  56. MadScientist

    With reports of over 500 fires burning in Russia, it is quite a disaster. It’s not only Russia though; everything east of the Carpathian range seems to be dry as a bone. I hope we don’t have another great famine like there was about 100 years ago; the populations are much larger now so it’s not hard to imagine far more suffering.

  57. MadScientist

    @Richard#59: Unfortunately you’ll need an expert to explain that carbon monoxide map. 240 parts per billion volume (ppbv) is normal in large cities and the concentration in clean air is about 10 ppbv. Also, MOPITT is a nadir viewing instrument set and sees the entire atmospheric column; it will not be a good representation of actual ground conditions. Only actual stations on the ground can give us a good idea of what’s really going on.

  58. mike burkhart

    This lookes like a major disater . Don’t remind me of the heat . To Rev Daniel w . Blair #37 You forgot one thing Jesus said about the end of the world: The end comes when you are not expecting it so if you think end will come in 2012 it won’t because you expect it . Also only God knows when the end will come, Jesus said that even he did not know the date of the end of the world ,Are you saying your smarter then Jesus? Off topic I recently got the movie Firefox on dvd , not to munch in the way of bad science in the film (maybe the Migs wepons systems are controled by the piolts thoughts thro sensers in the helment, this may become a reality but not yet) and some of the tecnolgy of the plane the US was working on like stelth tec. Still a good movie . If fans are interested there was a novel sequel to Firefox writen by the author of the novel the movie was based on called Firefox down .

  59. Richard Woods

    @MadScientist #61

    “Unfortunately you’ll need an expert to explain that carbon monoxide map.”

    Yes, that’s why I read the NASA-written commentary under the map before I posted the link … and why I posted no interpretation of my own, deeming NASA’s to be sufficient.

    “Also, MOPITT is a nadir viewing instrument set and sees the entire atmospheric column; it will not be a good representation of actual ground conditions.”

    MOPITT may “see” the entire atmospheric column, but it measures carbon monoxide in a portion of that column not including near-ground … as NASA explains in its third paragraph:

    NASA: “MOPITT measures carbon monoxide in the atmosphere between two and eight kilometers above Earth’s surface. The image shows the composite of those measurements, not carbon monoxide levels near the ground. However, ground measurements of carbon monoxide during the period reached more than six times higher than acceptable levels in Moscow, said news reports.”

  60. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    @ #31 AliCali:

    I get concerned with these kinds of predictions. There could be ten years of record-breaking heat, but then one year with normal or kinda cold temperatures, and all sorts of people will say, “See, global warming is a myth!”

    But then they ditch the trending and look for irregularities. My ref is “Detection and attribution of climate change: a regional perspective”, Stott et al, WIREs 2010.

  61. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    @ #57 Paul in Sweden:

    There is your great 75 climate scientist consensus that believe human activity is significant.

    The consensus (of both scientists and science) is presented in IPCC -07. “no remaining scientific body of national or international standing is known to reject the basic findings of human influence on recent climate change” [Wikipedia]

    Your own numbers shows how overwhelmingly the experts vote.

    consensus is not science.

    True, but it gives a quick estimate of an area.

  62. Paul in Sweden

    @65. Torbjörn Larsson

    ‘Consensus’ among the world’s Phrenological Societies without evidence validating their theories is worthless. The same is true for CAGW.

    Consensus is not science.

  63. The main toxic element of smoke pollution is carbon monoxide (CO). “Carbon monoxide in the air in Moscow during the day almost seven times more than the usual” Date: 08/08/2010 http://catalogseo.ru/article/5055/.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_monoxide

    Carbon monoxide (CO), also called carbonic oxide, is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas which is slightly lighter than air. It is highly toxic to humans and animals in higher quantities, although it is also produced in normal animal metabolism in low quantities, and is thought to have some normal biological functions.

    The reaction of the hydroxy carbon formed phosgene – chemical warfare agents!

    Physiological effects and toxicity of carbon monoxide.
    During pregnancy harmful effects likely even at the level of maximum permissible concentration!

    Gas mask does not protect against carbon monoxide (carbon monoxide)!

    See more: http://aleksey-galan.blogspot.com/2010/08/russian-researcher-moscows-heat-wave.html

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »