Blizzards over Russia

Many people think of global warming as a positive process that is going to reduce the amount of snowfall, the number of snowstorms and the overall occurrence of extreme cold. MIT scientists debunk this myth and say that most regions in the Northern Hemisphere, including Russia, will be hit by heavier snowfall and extreme cold as the result of climate change.

A new study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) suggests that while most areas in the North will most likely experience less snowfall throughout a season, the extreme snow events, such as snowfalls and extremely cold weather, will still occur, even in a future with significant warming.

MIT scientists performed the analysis of the correlation between precipitation and temperature across the Northern Hemisphere with the help of a supercomputer, using 20 different climate models, each of which projected climate change over a 100-year period, given certain levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

According to Paul O’Gorman, an associate professor in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, who was the author of the study, ‘many studies have looked at average snowfall over a season in climate models, but there’s less known about these very heavy snowfalls. In some regions, it is possible for average snowfall to decrease, but the snowfall extremes actually intensify.’

With global temperatures rising, in regions with a relatively soft climate heavy snowfall will become rarer. However, in colder areas heavy snowfall and snowstorms are going to intensify due to an increase in the amount of atmospheric water vapor and changes in atmospheric circulation. This sort of weather cataclysms are also most likely to result in serious economic and social disruption.

Hurricanes in the US, draughts in Australia, abnormally hot summers on different continents, catastrophically heavy rainfall and floods that happened in 2014 are only a few examples of climate change effects, and the list goes on. Extreme weather conditions keep setting records in virtually all regions of the world. The damage caused by these disasters increases every year.

The results of the American climate study agree with the alarming prognoses of the Russian Ministry of Civil Defense, Emergencies and Disaster Relief. The latter state that the frequency and intensity of extreme weather conditions due to climate change are going to go up almost 30 percent in the nearest future. As previously reported by the Ministry, in the XX century, the climate change has been occurring in Russia almost twice as fast as in the rest of the world, and the warming is fastest in the northernmost regions.

According to various calculations, the average temperature growth in the Arctic in the XX1 century will be 2 to 2.5 times faster than on the rest of the planet. By the end of this century, the average temperature in the Arctic region may go up 7 degrees Celsius. Global climate changes have already led to a significant growth of the number of large-scale natural disasters in Russia.

Environmental NGOs, in their appeals to institutions that oversee climate change issues in our country, have repeatedly emphasized the need to develop regional adaptation programs. ‘Russia is a northern country that is extremely vulnerable to climate change, and it calls for immediate real action to combat it.’