KFU scientists promise citizens of Kazan cosmetic snowfall by New Year

And make a bet with Greta Thunberg

Citizens of Kazan are waiting for snow at least by New Year and will probably see it — scientists from Kazan Federal University said this on 27 December. Meteorologists shared forecasts for the winter in general: warm December will be replaced by warm January and later by early spring with great floods. Read in Realnoe Vremya’s report why this winter is so warm and if environmental activists are right to require reducing emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to stop climate change.

Pushkin waited for snow too

Citizens of Kazan are wondering why winter is being so warm and when it snows, while journalists sent these questions to scientists from KFU — Director of the Department of Meteorology, Climatology and Atmospheric Environment of KFU Yury Perevedentsev and Assistant Professor of his department Timur Aukhadeyev. The scientists already had an answer to the first question: the impact of warm air masses from the Atlantic Ocean and the factor of circulation of air over the continent, which directs these masses. What about the snow? Perevedentsev remembered that the problem of a lack of snow before New Year was even described in Russian literature by Aleksandr Pushkin himself in the novel Yevgeny Onegin:

“But nature waited patiently,

Waited for winter to appear.

Then, on the third of January,

The longed-for snow fell…”

This is also illustrated in online folklore in jokes like “don’t touch snow, it is for New Year”. Timur Aukhadeyev continued drawing a historical analogy: a similar situation was observed in 1982 — then there was no snow on 27 December as well as both in 1990 and 2008 (the level of precipitation didn’t exceed 6 centimetres, like now).

But statistics of observations is on the side of those who are waiting for snow: the situation has significantly changed by 31 December during those years, and snow has already fallen by this day. This year probably the same will happen: according to forecasts of the Hydrometeorological Centre of Russia, heavy snowfall is expected on the night of 30 and 31 December and 31 December and 1 January.

However, Aukhadeyev added that one shouldn’t be waiting for banks of snow in the city. “There will be a cosmetic effect of snowfall for the city,” he assumes. Precipitation in winter in general are forecasted at an average level: 40-45 cm is quite a typical indicator for Tatarstan.

Snowless December to turn into floods in spring

The Hydrometeorological Centre also forecasts that temperature on New Year nights will go up again: if now the thermometer reads 10 degrees below zero, it will approach zero soon again. Moreover, January will be warm too: according to Perevedentsev, with warm December the first month of the next year will be warm too in 70% of cases. A drop in temperature is expected by February only, and spring (non-calendar spring) will come earlier than usual.

According to Aukhadeyev, 2019 has been in the top 6 warmest years in the last 100 years in Kazan. The number of days with abnormally high temperature has been 223 — two-thirds of the year. The temperature was within the norm or below just in a third of cases.

Moreover, scientists paid attention to another important moment of snowless December: soil starts to freeze deeper when there is no snow. After the snow falls and starts to melt in winter, accumulated water can’t go into the soil. According to the KFU specialists, this can lead to more severe floods than usual.

KFU’s response to Greta Thunberg

Global warming, the greenhouse effect and everything linked with it was anyway mentioned in the context of the talk about warm winter. In Perevedentsev’s opinion, global climate change is a heterogeneous process and depends on a number of factors, not only humans’ actions.

An experiment of KFU scientists confirms it. They compared changes in temperature at weather stations in Kazan and other big cities as well in places that are far from cities. Dynamics turned out to be similar everywhere, which confirms that there is no connection between humans’ actions and a warming climate.

Generally speaking, there are two opposite views on global warming, and each side is backed up by authoritative scientists. The first point of view suggests that humans’ activity has nothing to do here, nature simply has long cycles of warming and cooling. For instance, the above-described experiment proves it as well as some other research. The so-called Milankovitch cycles discovered by Serbian astrophysicist Milutin Milanković is the most famous of them. They describe climate change for thousands of years depending on the situation of the Earth in relation to other celestial bodies.

The second view is that temperature goes up because of humans’ actions: the construction of factors, cities, a rise in emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere… Research that revealed the dependence between the concentration of carbon dioxide and warming and numerous climatic models also supported this version. Environmental activists such as, for example, Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg who is famous for her speech in the UN and climate protests also defend this point of view.

Perevedentsev has a neutral position, and his response to environmental activists was quite modest:

“Doubts always remain. We believe that it is necessary to consider both factors. But how to rank them in order of importance? For instance, 60% for our territory is the circulation of the air from the Atlantic and other natural factors. My answer is: we should wait and see. When our environmental activist Greta who bothers the learning process grows up because she is staging different protests… We need to wait. It will already be clear in ten years how the balance will shift — towards natural or anthropogenic reasons,” the professor concluded.

By Aleksandr Artemyev