MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti commentator Tatyana Sinitsina) - Russian scientists offered a surprise for the Scotland G8 summit, which among other things will discuss climate change.
After returning from Antarctica, an expedition reported data to the Russian Academy of Sciences showing that the top of the mainland is getting colder.
Academician Yury Izrael, the director of the Institute of Global Climate and Ecology, said the following: "This shows once again that much uncertainty remains in climate changes forecasts. Climate change is obvious, but science has not yet been able to identify the causes of it."
When asked whether he could make a weather forecast for the days of the summit, he replied with a smile: "I can. It will be hot in Turkmenistan! But when it comes to Scotland, you'd better ask me no earlier than a day before the summit, and I'll tell you with 92% probability."
Climatology is a young science, which is still finding its way to some extent. The imbalances of the climatic processes mean that not only daily but also medium-term forecasts are difficult to make. "Only recently the limit for forecasting was two weeks, and today it has been reduced to 10 days," Izrael explained. "Nature is complex and there are many chance factors that cannot be predicted. Sudden turbulence may act like an avalanche and reverse wind direction."
The changing climate is a source of increasing concern. The alarm was first raised in Russia in the 1980s, when a Leningrad scientist named Mikhail Budyka taught the theory of climate change and provided a scientific foundation for it. He did not gain any global recognition for his work and even failed in his homeland to secure the title of academician on two occasions.
But Budyka held his ground. Today, it is enough to look out of the window to see that climate change is happening. The problem is obvious and is now one of the most recognized threats to the world. The vagaries of weather leave a sad cost of thousands of lives and billions of dollars for the national economies of many countries.
We have got used to living in tune with the seasons. When grass suddenly appears in Moscow in January or you have to put on warm clothes in July, you feel ill at ease. Crops in Russian fields and vegetables rot because rains and low temperatures come late, whereas farmers in Portugal and Belgium are short of fodder for their cattle because drought has scorched their land.
"If global temperatures continue to rise as they are in the future, the scope of future changes in nature are hard to imagine," says Alexander Bedritsky, the chief of the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environment Monitoring and president of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). "In these conditions one of the main challenges for mankind is to adapt itself to the changing climate."
The first problems for Russia may come with melting permafrost after air temperatures rise in winter. "It is hard even to assess the level of investment that will be required to protect vital infrastructure in those regions," Bedritsky said.
Academician Izrael said that the first important measure should be a powerful "breakthrough" financial injection in climate studies. Significant funds are required, for instance, to create a new generation of climatic models, because the available ones do not allow experts to make confident predictions about changes in a large number of weather phenomena (like storms in the medium latitudes). And milder phenomena, like thunderstorms, tornados, hail and lightning, are not even reproduced by contemporary models.
The assessments of the future of El Nino may also be regarded as "preliminary." "There is a gap today between scientists and politicians, which is not good for our cause," the scientist says. In his view, the G8 should heed the opinion of the experts.
Climate specialists today are sharply divided into pessimists and optimists. According to different model assessments, between 1990 and 2100 global temperatures may rise by 1.4-5.8 degrees Celsius. "I do not think this rise is a major threat to mankind," Izrael said. Nor does he regard as catastrophic the expected rise in the ocean level by 47 centimeters per century. It is more likely a threat to ports, which will have to adapt to the new conditions. Russia already has experience in this. The port of Magadan in the Far East has built several piers to adapt to ebbs and tides, which see the sea level rise by eight meters.
Mathematical modeling shows that Russia should expect a considerable increase in the average annual air temperature by the middle of the 21st century: by 3-4°C degrees Celsius in Western Siberia and by 2-3°C in the north of the European Russia, in Yakutia and along the Arctic coast. The level of precipitation may also increase by 10-20%.
Scientists are urging politicians to make definite conclusions now, because climate change will have considerable natural, economic and social consequences for the country.
Strange as it may seem, global warming may also lead to a catastrophic fall in the temperature. The melting of the Arctic ice may decrease water temperature in the northern part of the Atlantic, which will lead to changes in Europe's climate. An extreme variant of this change would be an end to warm streams, specifically the Gulf Stream. Some scientists say that it is already getting cooler. It is a symptom of the coming of a new ice age, even though this will not happen soon. But then again who knows?