Friday 30 August 2013

The Russian flood disaster

A Requiem for Flooded Cities: Russian Flood Disaster Worsens, Amur River to Hit 30 Feet

Khabarovk Flooding

29 August, 2013

Earlier this month, Russia experienced a Song of Flood and Fire in which massive burning of Siberia’s tundra transitioned to the worst flood event in Russian history. Now, the still ongoing and worsening flood has become a haunting requiem for flooded cities as more than 100,000 homes have been devoured or damaged by the still-rising waters.

As of today, news reports indicate that flood waters have risen as high as 7.6 meters (about 24 feet) along the Amur River shattering a previous record of 6 meters and moving on toward a predicted high of an unprecedented 9 meters (30 feet). These record high water levels are the worst seen in the 120 years of record keeping along the Amur River, a rate of flooding and rainfall that numerous Russian scientists are now attributing to climate change.

The Amur floods come just one year after a record flash flood in Krymsk killed 171 people and resulted in 600 million dollars in damages. The current Amur floods are expected to reach nearly 1 billion dollars in losses, Russia’s most costly flood disaster in its history.

A brief break in the clouds over this heavily flooded region allowed for satellites to provide pictures of the heavily flooded Amur. What follows is nothing short of eye-opening as the Amur River appears to expand to the size of a large inland bay.

Here is a picture of the Amur River on July 11:
Amur River July 11
Amur River July 11
(Image source:  Lance-Modis)

This shot shows an approximately 500 mile length of the Amur River running along the border between Russia and China. In this shot, we see the river ranging between 1-3 miles in width. By August 21, the situation is remarkably transformed:
Amur River Flooding August 21
Amur River Flooding August 21
(Image source: Lance-Modis)

In the above image, the Amur and its tributaries have swollen to between 5 and 20 miles in width devouring both forest lands and cities alike. The August 21 image was taken at a time when the Amur levels were about 7 meters, at another half meter in height and with more flooding on the way, even this remarkable picture is just a prelude to end flood levels.

Damages from flooding have resulted in the losses of about half a million hectacres of crops in the region, pushing food prices, on average, about 10% higher. Hungry brown bears displaced by the flood waters are increasingly encroaching on villages and towns in the region with Russian officials resorting to airlifting bears away from an at-risk human population.

Russian officials seem both stunned and taken aback by the rapacity and violence of these floods.
I’m not going to read letters and telegrams that are coming from citizens in my address. We’ll discuss those at a separate meeting,” Putin said Thursday. “But I want to turn your attention to the fact that not everything is as smooth as we’d like to think.”

An increasing number of Russian meteorologists and scientists are linking these events to climate change, all while they lament a general lack of Russian government response.
It is quite possible that such showers are indeed consequences of global warming. How else to explain this constant change in the climate?” Svetlana Ageyeva, head of the meteorological center in the Khabarovsk region, told RIA Novosti. “I would not laugh at those who say such things.”

Russian government has deep ties to its petroleum industry and preference goes to oil producing entities with little thought to the consequences of climate change. Most scientists in Russia expect little or no response from government unless the situation there continues to grow worse to the point where it begins to affect the profitability of government entrenched businesses.

Large, wet weather systems continue to converge over the Amur region as the Jet Stream delivers a stream of storms from the west and as Arctic storm systems ride down from the north along a deep trough. These converging rivers of air and moisture brought powerful storms, once again, to the already battered region today.

Amur Rain August 29
Amur Rain August 29
(Image source: Lance-Modis)

A similar Jet Stream pattern and moisture delivery system has been in place since late July, when evaporation spilling off the top of the Ocean Heat Dome near Shanghai dumped even more water vapor into an already overwhelming convergent flow. Since that time, a trough plunging down from the Arctic and a Jet Stream rushing across the continent have continued to link up over Amur, delivering storm after storm after storm. This is the kind of fixed, global warming-induced, weather pattern Dr. Jennifer Francis alluded to in her recent work at Rutgers and in her even more recent briefings to the US Congress.

(Hat Tip to Colorado Bob)


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