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Physical Geography of Northern Eurasia

Climate at Present and in the Historical Past

<<< Climate within the Period of Instrumental Meteorological Records | Physical Geography Index | Soils: Introduction >>>


Encompassing one-sixth of the terrestrial Earth, Northern Eurasia has a variety of climates ranging from the polar deserts to subtropics. Not surprisingly, climatology as an academic discipline has a long tradition here. National identity, that of an observant, patient, resourceful person for whom hardships and distances are no object, helped. (Those, who stand on deterministic position, argue that such an identity has formed under the influence of long and severe winters!) Medieval monks chronicled weather with amazing consistency and objectivity. Explorers in the 16th and 17th century described climates of the most remote regions of Siberia and Pacific. Members of the Great Northern Expeditions, accomplished under the command of Vitus Bering, established a network of meteorological stations all the way between the Volga and the Pacific. The establishment of a major centre for climatological research, the Major Physical Observatory in St. Petersburg, gave a new impetus to scientific work. The first scientific climatological projects were accomplished and the first scientific publications, concerned specifically with climate, were published: Climatological Essay on Russia and The Climate of Russia by Veselovsky, Climates of the World and Russia in Particular by Voeikov. Two types of landscapes dominate Northern Eurasia: forests and steppes. Two types of economic activity have been traditionally of national importance: forestry and agriculture. Russian climatologists were among the first to analyse the influence of forests on climate. Already at the beginning of the 19th century, Karazin published a monograph “The Importance of Forestry, Especially for Russia” where he addressed this issue. Climatology of droughts was researched comprehensively, especially in the context of southern European Russia and Ukraine, and a vast body of literature on droughts exists dating back to the 18th century. Climatological research diversified with time but one particular dimension, physical climatology which is concerned with studies of the energy budget, has acquired a worldwide reputation. Contemporary climatological research continues these traditions. In addition, as in other parts of the world, the problems of climatic change and variability, pioneered by a Russian climatologist, Budyko, are now a priority. The current period of climatic warming may have strong implications for the sensitive environments in Eurasia and in other parts of the world, not least via the teleconnections existing between the Eurasian snow cover, monsoon, and ENSO. The causes, nature and impacts of past, present and indeed the future climatic changes in Northern Eurasia present a challenge and endless research opportunities.

<<< Climate within the Period of Instrumental Meteorological Records | Physical Geography Index | Soils: Introduction >>>




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