Digital Diatribes

A presentation of data on climate and other stuff

What’s the Deal with Russian Anomalies?

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on December 17, 2008

I keep an eye on the weekly anomaly maps put out by the NOAA which can be found here. I’m always curious to see if I can get a feel for what the global anomalies will be based on what I am seeing throughout the month at that site.

There are neat-o colored maps.

One drawback is that not all areas are covered. For example, we see northern Africa and southern Africa, but not the middle. Also, NOAA is careful to point out the following: “Note: These analyses are based on preliminary and unchecked data.”

Nonetheless, it is interesting to take a look at.

What I’ve noticed anecdotally is that I can usually predict which way the anomaly is going to go based on what Russia is doing. This makes sense from the perspective that Russia is a huge land mass. While Ocean areas take up decidedly more area than land areas, the temperature swings in the oceans probably aren’t swift enough to drive anomalies. That is more the stablizer of the general average from month to month (although we obviously know there are cycles in ocean temperature, from a month-to-month basis the temperatures won’t swing as much as land temps). So it also makes sense that the anomaly is driven from land temperature swings.

So, I don’t dispute the importance of Russia, nor do I dispute the anomalies being driven by large land masses. I want to make that clear, and it isn’t the intent of my post to dispute those premises.

What makes me a little uncomfortable, though, is the fact that a huge land area such as Russia has subpar temperature measuring capabilities. I won’t delve into that here, but clicking on the Watts Up With That link to the right will take you to a bevy of posts and resources that demonstrate U.S. issues with surface stations measurement, and in this context, point out that we are light-years ahead of Russia. If interested in pursuing that point further, I encourage you to spend some time there.

But back to what I’ve seen on the maps…

Blue and purple mean cold, and the reds are hot (bright red is really hot). It can be reasonably expected that from region to region in any given week there will be cold spots, warm spots, and average spots. It’s called weather. You will almost never notice a situation where every region of the globe is red or every region of the globe is blue. This is why it seems so silly to point to a heat wave in one area as evidence of global warming and dismiss cold weather elsewhere as an anecdote. As an aside, I admit to the fact that it is difficult to look outside your own area. In Wisconsin, it seems like every week is blue or purple, and we’ve felt it now for a year and a half, with no end in sight. As I type this, it has finally “warmed up” to 9 degrees, but now we are expected to get 8-12 inches of snow over the weekend. I look at this and conclude that global warming fear-mongers are insane, even though I know in my head that Wisconsin encompasses but a small part of the globe. But this is the point. I can’t claim global cooling because of that any more than Ahnuld Schwarzenegger should be claiming global warming because of wildfires. It’s regional, and it’s weather.

But over the last few months, as I’ve been freezing, I keep looking at these maps and I see the middle U.S. consistently blue and purple. Then I see other regions that seem to bounce between blue and red. But in almost every month, I’ve noticed that Russia is bright red. We’re talking “hot” red. So, every month, no matter how cold it is everywhere else, I suspect that the anomaly will be higher than I’d otherwise expect because of that big red land mass.

While I do question the temperature measurements somewhat, I do believe that a generally warmer Russia is, in fact, reality because otherwise the Satellite measures would be deviating even more wildly from GISS/NOAA. The fact that November, for example, had a warmer anomaly seems to have been driven almost entirely from a warmer Russia based on my cursory review of the weekly graphs.

The site simply replaces the maps each week, so after Sunday the link won’t show what I’m talking about. So let me just show you the current maps here as an example. I suppose now that I’ve done this we’ll see blue areas in Russia next week, but trust me when I say this has been the case a good chunk of the last year or so, even through last La Nina.


Australia - cold in the West and Central, warm in the East.


Canadian Prairies - very cold in the East, slightly warm in the West

East Asia

East Asia - more warmth than cold.


Europe - cold in the West, warm in the East.


India - warm


Mexico - mostly cool or average

Middle East

Middle East - a hodge-podge of cool, warm, and average

Northern Africa

Northern Africa - cold

Southern South America

Southern South America - mostly warm or average.

Greater South America

Greater South America - slightly warm or average

Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia - mostly average or slightly cool


Southern Africa - Warm to hot in the south, cool to cold in the north

United States

United States - Warm West of the Mississippi, cold East of the Mississippi and in the Midwest (note the dark blue directly over my house).

OK, so we get the idea. Some places cold, some places warm, some palces average, some places a combination.

Now, see Russia burn…

Russia 1

Russia #1 - Hot

Russia 2

Russia #2 - Hot

Russia 3

Russia #3 - Only mostly Hot

This is only one week, but it has been the norm.

So, what gives in Russia?

One Response to “What’s the Deal with Russian Anomalies?”

  1. […] What’s the Deal with Russian Anomalies? […]

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