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The moon over Baikal glittered in different way, like you are looking at sable fur

'
Ian Frazier, 2013

No snow in Siberia? Locals marvel - and worry - at the 'snow shortage'

By Anna Liesowska
17 December 2013

These extraordinary pictures give graphic new evidence of climate change.

Recently, experts have sounded warnings about the impact of climate change, with one warning that the energy-rich Yamal Peninsula in Siberia could be flooded due to a rise in sea levels - along with some famous cities. Picture from Barnaul, Western Siberia, courtesy Sergey Scherbin, Barnaul.fm

We highlight December images taken in recent days in two Siberian cities Krasnoyarsk and Barnaul showing scenes that locals insist are unprecedented in living memory. The startling pictures from Krasnoyarsk show an almost total absence of snow yet as every school child around the world knows, snow is what Siberia is all about. 

No more, it seems. The images of the River Yenisei with ducks splashing in the water, and grass in the parks, could be from autumn rather than deep in the winter in a city where December temperatures have gone as low as minus 47C, and the daily mean in minus 13C at this time of year, with plenty of snow on the ground. 

As in many areas of Siberia this winter, the thermometer is reluctant to plummet to customary bone-chilling temperatures. Last night when we checked outside, it was a mere minus 3C. Day time temperatures lately have been warmer. As mother-of-two Anastasia said from Krasnoyarsk: 'I'm reading a book to my children and I hear the tapping of the rain in my ear. Rain? Rain??? Rain in the middle of December? In Siberia?'

No snow in Siberia? Locals marvel - and worry - at the 'snow shortage'


No snow in Siberia? Locals marvel - and worry - at the 'snow shortage'


No snow in Siberia? Locals marvel - and worry - at the 'snow shortage'


No snow in Siberia? Locals marvel - and worry - at the 'snow shortage'


No snow in Siberia? Locals marvel - and worry - at the 'snow shortage'

The images of the River Yenisei with ducks splashing in the water, and grass in the parks, could be from autumn rather than deep in the winter in a city where December temperatures have gone as low as minus 47C. Pictures: Sergey Lazarev

Sergey Scherbin's images and footage from the historic west Siberian city of Barnaul -  gateway to the Altai Mountains - are every bit as stunning, but not just because of the haunting beauty of the river scenes. The iceflow on the mighty Ob resembles the spring snow melt. This December scene is out of sync with the natural cycle. By this time of year, many Siberians expect to be fishing through thick ice on their rivers, and driving their vehicles over these sturdy 'winter roads'.

Not here. A similarly warm winter - and a lack of snow - has been reported from many places across Siberia and is a talking point especially among our senior citizens who can give some perspective to the debate. 'I cannot believe my eyes,' said one elderly local in Barnaul. 'This doesn't happen'.

In Novosibirsk, we asked 83 year old Fyodor Olifirenko to compare this winter to others he has known.

'I do not remember such a warm December,' he said. 'In 1963 there was some thaw on December 24-25, it was raining a bit. But by morning all was frozen and after that started strong frosts. But such weather - when it is constantly raining in the middle of December - I see this for the first time'.

So what do the academic experts say? Well, we'd like to hear from you, whether Russian or foreign? Help us understand these weather blips in Siberia? What do they mean? We will cover your views on the missing snow in future stories. 

No snow in Siberia? Locals marvel - and worry - at the 'snow shortage'


No snow in Siberia? Locals marvel - and worry - at the 'snow shortage'


No snow in Siberia? Locals marvel - and worry - at the 'snow shortage'


No snow in Siberia? Locals marvel - and worry - at the 'snow shortage'


No snow in Siberia? Locals marvel - and worry - at the 'snow shortage'


No snow in Siberia? Locals marvel - and worry - at the 'snow shortage'


No snow in Siberia? Locals marvel - and worry - at the 'snow shortage'


No snow in Siberia? Locals marvel - and worry - at the 'snow shortage'


No snow in Siberia? Locals marvel - and worry - at the 'snow shortage'


No snow in Siberia? Locals marvel - and worry - at the 'snow shortage'


No snow in Siberia? Locals marvel - and worry - at the 'snow shortage'


No snow in Siberia? Locals marvel - and worry - at the 'snow shortage'


No snow in Siberia? Locals marvel - and worry - at the 'snow shortage'

Stunning, the December ice flow on river Ob near the historic city of Barnaul. Picture: Sergey Scherbin, Barnaul.fm

In Tomsk, a hardy group of residents pose almost naked to highlight the unseasonably warm weather. You will notice the ice around them, but their city this week has enjoyed day time temperatures above zero, in a month when the mean is expected to be minus 15C.

So they are right to highlight something unusual going on. And it's true that last year when they pulled off a similar stunt, the temperature was minus 34C.

The snow shortage in Siberia during the past few weeks in the latest weather to defy expectations this year. The summer saw bikinis in the Arctic, as residents in Norilsk sunned themselves in temperatures as warm as Nice and Naples. 

But the Far East of Russia experienced devastating floods over many weeks, from which locals are still recovering as the Amur River spilled its banks.

Recently, experts have sounded warnings about the impact of climate change, with one warning that the energy-rich Yamal Peninsula in Siberia could be flooded due to a rise in sea levels - along with some famous cities.

Alexei Kokorin, head of the WWF project 'Climate and Energy' predicts a one metre rise in ocean levels by the end of the century. 'The problem of flooding will primarily affect tropical countries and such metropolises as Hong Kong, Calcutta, Shanghai - they will simply cease to exist. In Russia, in danger of being flooded are the Yamal Peninsula, the federal city of St Petersburg and the Leningrad region.'

'We should prepare for extremes of heat, an increase in drought (the difference will be noticeable in the next 10-20 years). With the increase in average temperature may appear insects, unusual for a particular locality. Speaking globally, in the coming decades climate will become even more unstable: the number of hazards (ice rains, drought, floods) will increase by two to three times. And Russia is no exception.'

No snow in Siberia? Locals marvel - and worry - at the 'snow shortage'.


No snow in Siberia? Locals marvel - and worry - at the 'snow shortage'.

Last December it was -34C in Tomsk, feel the difference! Pictures: Anton Perebeinos 

Academician Vladimir Kotlyakov, honorary president of the Russian Geographical Society, highlighted the rapid process of melting Arctic ice. He believes that it will bring 'climate anomalies, non-uniform in space and time which will have mixed effects, including within the territory of Russia'. 

He forecast: 'The entire modern way of life on Earth is that any global climate change may be adverse for people. The fact is that the entire current economic way established and rapidly developed only in a narrow interval of time - almost the last century. Because of this, it has adapted to the same climatic environment.'

Comments (13)

Patrick! No mistification about Tomsk guys suntans! They gat it in summer. In southwest Siberia it's very hot in Summer usually it's 25-30 above zero in Yuly and till 15th of August. It's quit normal weather! Really! And it was always the same. Thought sometimes some years are colder. And winters are also different. It was not the first time we had such warm winter. For example this January temperatures were usually about 15 -25 below zero C. But I remember when 10 or 12 years ago it was rain on the New Year day!))) And again LAst 5 winters were extremelly cold even for us - siberians, because since 2009 till 2013 in winter sometimes we have - 40-45 during 2 or 3 weeks. It was really terrible. So, now, I mean this winter, it's just a compensation, )))) And spring is really wonderful , Today is +24C. It's unusuall of corse! But it won't be for so long, next week forcasts about zero- rainy and snow. It is call sharp continental climat we have here in southwest and west siberia)
Natalia, Barnaul/South Siberia/Russia
02/04/2014 16:50
1
0
I'm not sure why people are shouting "Global Warming!" just because of unexpected high temperatures. I found this article simply by wondering if Russia was experiencing warm temps due to the frigid temps normally found there being found this season sweeping down over Canada and the United States. The Earth is a globe, it only makes sense that if you have massively lower temperatures in one spot for prolonged periods, they are balanced elsewhere. Just because Russia is no longer frozen tundra does not translate to global warming--it ALSO does not disprove it.
It's interesting to see that the arctic weather we are experiencing here IS being pulled (or pushed?) from elsewhere.
Balance in everything.
Elizabeth, Baltimore, MD
21/01/2014 17:14
0
2
Mi understanding is that much of the Siberian infrastructure is built with assumption that Permafrost is a given. For instance large dams are built with a frozen matrix of gravel and water, not cement which does not work so well in the Arctic environment. Building foundations rely on the ground remaining frozen not melting. Perhaps not this year but next?
Leif Knutsen, Port Townsend, Washington
04/01/2014 06:41
1
0
Our winters here are nothing like a winter in Siberian but they normally mean lighting the wood stove first thing in the morning and shoveling snow at least once per week.

This year we are having a similar 'no winter' event. We haven't lit a fire in weeks. I haven't even put on a jacket in weeks. Other than a few days of cold and a bit of snow in early November it's like summer/fall never ended. And we've had only one third our normal amount of rain.

I suspect we've really screwed up our climate. And I'm afraid this is only the beginning....
Bob Wallace, Bridgeville, California, USA
03/01/2014 13:46
2
0

Arctic Death Spiral and the Methane Time Bomb - YouTube
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6pFDu7lLV4

Tomgram: Dahr Jamail, The Climate Change Scorecard
http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175785/tomgram:_dahr_jamail,_the_climate_change_scorecard/print

Arctic Methane Emergency Group - AMEG - Arctic Sea Ice - Methane Release - Planetary Emergency
http://ameg.me/index.php/emergency

AGU Chapman Conference -- Climate Science: Richard Alley - YouTube
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_-8u86R3Yc&list=PL7Ihm2Mh3MZ5ZVQhhGP8pGu85dj6ued__

Arctic Warming Drives More Extreme Summer Heat Waves, Droughts And Deluges, Study Finds
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/12/09/3038631/arctic-warming-extreme-weather/

Arctic Death Spiral Bombshell: CryoSat-2 Confirms Sea Ice Volume Has Collapsed
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/02/14/1594211/death-spiral-bombshell-cryosat-2-confirms-arctic-sea-ice-volume-has-collapsed/


Joseph Reid, Oaxaca, Mexico
02/01/2014 11:10
0
0
Very disturbing news if one has the stomach to investigate. Run away global warming starting in the Northern latitudes and coming to a city near you very soon. Here is what is going on but I advise against looking if you are faint of heart. : http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/
pray sincerely for our children, grand- children and have Faith.
Ted L, CapeCod,Massachusettes
31/12/2013 08:04
0
1
Egypt and Hawaii -- on opposite side of the Earth from each other -- both got snow last week.

This is not normal weather.
Edward Kirby, NYC, USA
20/12/2013 23:23
6
0
THURSDAY 19/12/13 DAY TEMP 37C UNUSUALLY HIGH, FRIDAY 20/12/13 DAY TEMP AN AVERAGE TEMP OF 19C WITH LIGHT RAIN. UNUSAL TEMPERATURE SWINGS ARE BECOMING MORE FREQUENT AND PRONOUNCED WITH INCREASING CATASTROPHIC BUSH FIRES. HOLD ON TO YOUR HATS ITS GOING TO BE A WILD RIDE AS THE CHINESE SAY IT IS GOING TO BE INTERESTING TIMES. CHEERS EVERY BODY HAVE GREAT XMAS
GUPTA SINGH, HOBART TASMANIA
20/12/2013 15:13
1
0
LOVE the photos, Krasnoyarsk tourist destination, yes? Siberian sunbathing related to record heat in Alaska http://www.climatecentral.org/news/while-most-of-u.s.-froze-parts-of-alaska-set-record-highs-16817

...for me it's more of a global sci-fi film, tho I relate to the horror... chemtrails in Krasnoyarsk too, wow.
Peter Malsin, Hanover NH USA
20/12/2013 09:24
0
1
Check out the 'Arctic Oscillation' ... an effect of climate change on the jet stream, perhaps? Warm in Russia, cold in U.S., and vice versa, in polar waves. From last year: Dr. Jeff Masters' WunderBlog : Unusually cold spring in Europe and the Southeast U.S. due to the Arctic Oscillation http://ow.ly/rWkRH
Ted Cushman, Portland, Maine
20/12/2013 09:12
4
0
The empirical evidence continues to mount at a staggering rate that jet stream disruption is now fully at hand and therefore we have entered the unknown. Modern scientific models are excellent at predicting stable conditions, but to suggest we know what is around disruptive corners is pure folly. It appears we are indeed turning that corner. What a time to be alive and witness!



From what I understand:



(1) Nowhere on Earth is warming faster than the atmosphere above the Arctic (likely somehow related to or emphasized by ice loss).

(2) Higher temperatures mean higher pressures.

(3) The strength of the jet stream is dictated by the difference between mid-latitude and high-latitude atmospheric pressures.

(4) This difference is shrinking so the jet stream is slowing down.

(5) Slower speeds mean more meanders, like a easy-going river vs. a rushing creek.

(6) More meanders result in greater extremes and slower moving weather.



Not that complicated, right? Makes sense to me.



Yikes!


Hans Berg, Empire, CO
20/12/2013 03:38
4
0
A major meeting for US climate scientists just ended over here, with several studies chronicling the ENORMOUS changes occurring in the Arctic - yes, that means you, Siberia! Methane (natural gas), a far strong greenhouse gas than CO2, is escaping at incredible rates into the atmosphere up there, further speeding global warming.

The US Navy has also just admitted the possibility that the Arctic ocean could be totally ice free during the summer by 2016, 84 years ahead of schedule. The extra heat, one scientist has calculated, is equal to having 200,000+ EXTRA large power plants on the planet.

So, you haven't seen anything yet -- imagine large warm swamps full of biting bugs and diseases, minus the dinosaurs for your children, Siberia... and then lobby for switching to clean energy ASAP!!!

We can either bomb - or HEAT - civilization into oblivion... as someone who writes about climate change weekly at the huffingtonpost ("Climate Change This Week") I sometimes feel like I'm sitting in a movie theater alone, watching a horror movie unfold -- alone, because no national leader is acting even close to what must be done to stop the horror from unfolding... so enjoy your bikini romps while you can...
Mary Ellen Harte, Berkeley, CA, USA
19/12/2013 22:43
6
0
Tomsk ,the City of many universities,some with very high International respect and rankings, So one must assume these Tomskians bathing in the icy waters at this time of the year are desperately trying to convey that unusual phenomena is now occurring all over Siberia . Thank you guys for such a brave display to highlight your concerns ,Still mystified however, where you obtained those magnificent suntans! ,must have all recently arrived back from the Azov region. Yes, if we can imagine "Sunny Siberia" in 3014 ------- a land of palm trees and banana plantations. A haven for the freezing Americans to come and collect their Vitamin D for their starving bones. A siberian summer holiday that has steady consistent days of warm blissful sunshine equal to anywhere else in the world , A Siberian "Garden of Eden ' a ------- oops my alarm clock has just gone off , Wow what a dream !
Patrick ,
Patrick Travers, Perth Australia
19/12/2013 06:09
0
3
1

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