Warmer winters, heavier snowfalls, worse roads: what global warming will lead to in Tatarstan

Kazan Federal University’s climatology and meteorology experts explained why agriculturists can benefit from higher January temperatures and lose because of irregular precipitation

Warmer winters, heavier snowfalls, worse roads: what global warming will lead to in Tatarstan
Photo: Maxim Platonov

By the end of last week a third of the monthly precipitation average was due to be in Tatarstan, Kazan Federal University’s climatologists and metereologists warned. The snow coat could rise to 70cm. And it would stay at this level by late March. All this is a consequence of global climate processes, explained Professor of the Department of Meteorology, Climatology and Atmospheric Environment of KFU’s Institute of Environmental Sciences Yury Perevedentsev and Docent of the same university Timur Aukhadeyev at a press conference. Global warming in our region leads to warmer winters and heavier precipitation. In the long term, Tatarstan can win — the heating season will reduce, the vegetation period in contrast will increase. Read more in Realnoe Vremya’s report.

Global warming in Tatarstan seen in warmer winters and nights

Because of a lot of precipitation this winter the snow coat is unusually high, 58-59cm considering that at times during some winters the snow coat doesn’t exceed 10 centimetres,” warned meteorologist and climatologist Yury Perevedentsev. “In the end life became tougher for owls. They ear mice, which are deep in the snow. However, hazel grouses, black grouses and capercaillies that live in the snow diving into the snow coat like hens feel good. Common magpies and crows feel worse: a good harvest of rowan turned out under the snow. While sparrows hiding in snow-covered places could only welcome such snowfalls.”

These are illustrative facts of the influence of global atmospheric processes. The processes themselves differently impact different regions. If in coastal countries this leads to cataclysms like floods and hurricanes, in Tatarstan, first of all, this is seen in warmer winters. And the temperature this January turned out to be above the average, we didn’t see and will not see freezing cold temperatures. Interestingly, if the temperature rises by 0,2 degrees on average in 10 years, in Russia it does by 0,5, in Tatarstan it rises much faster, primarily in winter.”

“When it gets warmer, more humidity evaporates in the atmosphere. As a result, the amount of precipitation grows, there is a lot of additional energy, hence the instability in the atmosphere that brings particularly winds, squalls, tornadoes, hurricanes,” said Yury Perevedentsev. “In the Volga Federal District, in Tatarstan, temperatures only grow. Moreover, in January, the trend [for a higher temperature] is stronger than in July. Warming in Tatarstan is seen mainly in winter and at night. The lowest temperature [in winter] grows faster in more ‘conservative’ July.”

“Roads are impassable now too, while it will get only worse”: a third of the monthly precipitation average is possible

As a consequence, there was less extreme cold in January but with more precipitation. According to KFU’s Docent, climatologist Timur Aukhadeyev, if freezing cold temperatures last year were registered in the second decade of January, this time, the first month of the year turned out to be mild, the temperature didn’t fall below 20 degrees (Editor’s note: besides 5 January), though usually this happens for 6-7 days. Weather-sensitive people who have felt sudden pressure ups and downs 13 times due to the constant change of cyclones and anticyclones have to pay for such comfort.

Nowadays the height of the snow coat corresponds to that of March. Therefore this March will have more snow than during the previous years. Tatarstan’s average January temperatures also correspond to the March average — 1,5-2 degrees below zero, Yury Perevedentsev noted. According to him, the snow coat rises year after year. At the same time, “weather depression”, or “a lack of solar radiation” increases because of an abundance of cyclones: in the last three months, Tatarstan has received just a fourth of the average radiation amount because there have been fewer sunny days.

By the end of last year, Tatarstan meteorologists predicted the snow coat would grow from 58-59cm to nearly 70cm. Every millimetre of precipitation adds another centimetre of snow coat, explains Timur Aukhadeyev.

“Here in Tatarstan, the temperature in February must be -13 degrees on average, while it will not exceed -4-5 degrees. The precipitation in the next few days will be significant, there must be a third of the monthly average for a couple of days,” Yury Perevedentsev claimed. “The roads are already impassable, while it will get only worse.”

Photo: Maxim Platonov

“We need precipitation on time”: pros and cons of warmer climate for agriculturists

North-Atlantic cyclones have a direct impact on the weather in the central part of Russia and in Tatarstan: they raise the average temperature and bring more precipitation. Siberian and polar cyclones, which bring dry atmosphere and low temperatures almost stopped coming here. Sunny weather should unlikely be expected until late February, the experts consider. In fact, March has always been a continuation of winter, the temperature is still below zero, the warm period began by 31 March — 3 April. The snow coat disappears at the beginning of the second decade of April. The Tatarstan climatologists and meteorologists think that this March will rather be warm, not cold. The highest speed of the rise in temperature is seen during this month in the Volga Federal District, by 0,3 degrees in 10 years. It might seem that warm March and a high snow coat are only good for Tatarstan agriculturists, but this isn’t true though in the long-term global warming can provide advantages for the republic’s Agro-Industrial Complex. The warming is cunning because though the amount of precipitation grows, their frequency changes too.

“Today the precipitation is grouped. While agriculturists and gardeners need precipitation on time,” explains Docent of the Department of Meteorology, Climatology and Atmospheric Environment Timur Aukhadeyev. “The climate becomes ‘nervous,’ the repetition of negative occurrences increases. The difference between the average winter and summer temperature reduces, and Kazan’s climate becomes less continental [stably hot in summer, stably freezing cold in winter with little precipitation].

More different plants and diseases, shorted heating season

Now the average annual temperature in Tatarstan is just +5-6 degrees, in Russia, it is -4 degrees whereas the average global one is +15. As a result, our region remains “quite a cold territory.” So as a result of the fall in the temperature range and warmer winter, there will be more heat, which is not bad, thinks Yury Perevedentsev:

“The vegetation period increases here, the heating season reduces, there is more heat, we will have to spend less energy for heating.”

But agricultural technologists should foresee methods of delayed precipitation, and extra stimuli to invest in new technologies appear today precisely because of the unpredictability of precipitation in spring, the KFU scientists assume. The warming of the “winter climate” led to a situation in which the list of unseen plants and insects has increased in Tatarstan in the last years.

Timur Aukhadeyev agrees that “uncharacteristic diseases” appear more often. However, he didn’t name them. According to Professor Yury Perevedentsev, some experts at KFU already analysed the intensity of the coronavirus incidence in Tatarstan in relation to meteorological factors and even received the first results: the colder, the more severe coronavirus is. But he warns that too many other factors except the weather influence the behaviour of the coronavirus pandemic.

How global warming may not allow the planet to be covered with ice again

In general the warmer climate, the KFU climatologists think, already leads and will lead to a bigger number of dangerous atmospheric phenomena, cataclysms, unstable atmosphere. Snowfalls that are not typical for Mediterranean and Near Eastern countries are a result. Or the appearance of quite an Atlantic cyclone in the Arctic first, then down, to Russia’s central regions. Also, cyclones change their trajectory, unusual atmospheric phenomena as the recent 700-km long lightning in America are registered too. As Yury Perevedentsev explains the behaviour of the atmosphere in Russia, according to the greenhouse climate theory, the biggest change in the temperature above zero is usually seen in the centre of the continent, this is why we have the biggest rise in the temperature in Siberia.

Photo: Maxim Platonov

“The stratosphere must start to cool down, this is what is happening. We see warming here, while the temperature there [in the stratosphere] is going down. Radioactively active gases simply don’t let space radiation from us, as a result the stratosphere doesn’t get this radiation, and the ozone layer decreases.”

At the same time, the professor thinks that today’s warming is conditioned not only by the manmade factor but also natural factors like solar or volcanic activity or La Niña and El Niño oceanic and atmospheric phenomena. If El Niño is 10 degrees above the average temperature in the tropical zone of the Pacific Ocean, which has a global impact, La Niña is its coldest analogue.

While solar activity doesn’t have a strong impact on the climate today, but this wasn’t always this way. Centuries ago when it was weaker, the temperature decreased by 2 degrees and there was the Little Ace Age, which lasted until 1860. As for the Great Ice Age, the probability of its repetition — while the next could be expected in the next 100,000 years — goes down because of the influence of manmade factors if they play a leading role. According to Yury Perevedentsev, during the Ice Age, the territory of Tatarstan was covered with ice, which was 3 km thick, while the average temperature on the planet was 9 degrees, while the territory of Tatarstan “had eternal winter in general.”

Sergey Afanasyev
Tatarstan