The Heat Is Online

Russian River Flows Validate Human Impact

Russian Rivers Prove Man-Made Climate Change - Report, Jan. 21, 2005

LONDON - Increased flows of Russian rivers into the Arctic Ocean are due to man-made greenhouse gases and might indicate changing global rainfall patterns, according to a report by leading British climate scientists.

The team at the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research -- part of the British Meteorological Office -- said computer models showed that the cause was human activity and predicted that things would get worse.

"By analysing river-monitoring data from the six largest Eurasian rivers flowing into the Arctic Ocean, scientists have found a trend of increased river output during the 20th century," the report said.

"A similar trend is found in the climate simulation for the same period by the Hadley Centre's coupled climate model, but only when the effects of man-made greenhouse gases are included," it added.

Lead scientist Peili Wu said the findings were in line with predictions that global warming would lead to changes in the water cycle.

"Our model predicts that these changes will intensify in the coming decades, with implications for water supply and risks of flooding," he added.

The report said increased flows had been observed from the Yenisey, Lena, Ob, Pechora, Kolyma and Severnaya Dvina rivers.

The report said the changes in the world's water cycle could also have implications for the circulation of the Atlantic Ocean and the key Atlantic Conveyor current which has been predicted to show signs of weakening.

It comes just four weeks before the Kyoto climate change treaty enters into force, aimed at curbing the emissions of the main greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

Critics say the treaty is too late and inadequate to tackle the looming global climate crisis.

They note the world's worst polluter, the United States, has refused to sign up arguing human activities do not contribute to climate change which is a natural phenomenon.

Environmentalists also note the treaty is not binding on developing nations, but they say it is the only show in town and must be made to work.

Environmentalists say a two-degree centigrade rise in warming is in the pipeline -- melting icecaps and boosting sea levels -- and action is needed now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.