Departmental Presence at NASA, GOFC-GOLD and NEESPI Workshop & Regional Conference: Impacts of extreme weather on natural, socio-economic and land-use systems
Photo: Dr. Tatiana Loboda is interviewed by Russian news crew.
In the summer of 2010, an extreme drought captured the attention of the media, the Russian government, and the international community. Numerous wildfires which accompanied the drought produced extremely high levels of carbon monoxide and, combined with intense heat over a prolonged period of time, led to nearly 56,000 deaths in Russia. This drought also resulted in wide-spread crop failure within one of the largest wheat-exporting regions of the world, leading to global increases in the price of grain.
On June 17-21, 2012, 78 scientists and land/fire managers from the U.S., Europe, Russia, and Kazakhstan gathered at the workshop in Yoshkar-Ola, Russia, to analyze the 2010 drought and its impacts on ecosystems and society. The Department of Geographical Sciences played a key role in organizing and conducting the meeting: Drs. Chris Justice, Tatiana Loboda, Luigi Boschetti, Peter Potapov, and Svetlana Turubanova attended the meeting and presented their work.
While droughts are a recurring phenomenon in European Russia, the climatic settings of this region have been changing over the past 70 years. The length of growing season in this major wheat producing area has increased by 6-11 days. While the amount of rainfall has also grown over the past 40 years, the shift towards fewer more intense precipitation events has led to a higher number of prolonged dry episodes. The Rossby Wave pattern of the 2010 summer season, linked to the strength of the Jet Stream, resulted in the establishment of a blocking high which redirected frontal rains towards West Siberia for most of the July and August. This drought was unusually severe because the extreme temperatures in summer of 2010 were preceded by a low snow cover in the winter of 2009-2010.
Recent changes in crop rotation practices in many regions affected by 2010 drought contributed to the drought-related crop failure: a large portion of the area was dominated by late-season crops with high demand on water resources and thus most susceptible to drought-induced crop failure. This crop pattern extended into the 2011 season because of large soil moisture deficits in the region during the fall 2010 planting season. Other impacts, such as bark beetle infestation in forests in the fall of 2010 and decline in overall greenness of vegetation in 2011-2012, were observed across European Russia. Scientific findings and the linkages between land management, droughts, and human health highlighted at the meeting are particularly interesting in light of the developing drought conditions in the U.S. during 2012.
The meeting concluded with a training workshop, organized by Tatiana Loboda and conducted by a team of experts including Peter Potapov, where young scientists from the region were invited to gain skills in applying remote sensing technology to land cover characterization and to learn about new approaches to fire monitoring and crop mapping from a suite of high, moderate, and coarse resolution satellite data.