A Requiem for Flooded Cities: Russian Flood Disaster Worsens, Amur River to Hit 30 Feet

Khabarovk Flooding

(Image source: RIA Novosti / Sergey Mamontov)

Earlier this month, Russia experienced a Song of Flood and Fire in which massive burning of Siberia’s tundra transitioned to the worst flood event in Russian history. Now, the still ongoing and worsening flood has become a haunting requiem for flooded cities as more than 100,000 homes have been devoured or damaged by the still-rising waters.

As of today, news reports indicate that flood waters have risen as high as 7.6 meters (about 24 feet) along the Amur River shattering a previous record of 6 meters and moving on toward a predicted high of an unprecedented 9 meters (30 feet). These record high water levels are the worst seen in the 120 years of record keeping along the Amur River, a rate of flooding and rainfall that numerous Russian scientists are now attributing to climate change.

The Amur floods come just one year after a record flash flood in Krymsk killed 171 people and resulted in 600 million dollars in damages. The current Amur floods are expected to reach nearly 1 billion dollars in losses, Russia’s most costly flood disaster in its history.

A brief break in the clouds over this heavily flooded region allowed for satellites to provide pictures of the heavily flooded Amur. What follows is nothing short of eye-opening as the Amur River appears to expand to the size of a large inland bay.

Here is a picture of the Amur River on July 11:

Amur River July 11

Amur River July 11

(Image source:  Lance-Modis)

This shot shows an approximately 500 mile length of the Amur River running along the border between Russia and China. In this shot, we see the river ranging between 1-3 miles in width. By August 21, the situation is remarkably transformed:

Amur River Flooding August 21

Amur River Flooding August 21

(Image source: Lance-Modis)

In the above image, the Amur and its tributaries have swollen to between 5 and 20 miles in width devouring both forest lands and cities alike. The August 21 image was taken at a time when the Amur levels were about 7 meters, at another half meter in height and with more flooding on the way, even this remarkable picture is just a prelude to end flood levels.

Damages from flooding have resulted in the losses of about half a million hectacres of crops in the region, pushing food prices, on average, about 10% higher. Hungry brown bears displaced by the flood waters are increasingly encroaching on villages and towns in the region with Russian officials resorting to airlifting bears away from an at-risk human population.

Russian officials seem both stunned and taken aback by the rapacity and violence of these floods.

“I’m not going to read letters and telegrams that are coming from citizens in my address. We’ll discuss those at a separate meeting,” Putin said Thursday. “But I want to turn your attention to the fact that not everything is as smooth as we’d like to think.”

An increasing number of Russian meteorologists and scientists are linking these events to climate change, all while they lament a general lack of Russian government response.

“It is quite possible that such showers are indeed consequences of global warming. How else to explain this constant change in the climate?” Svetlana Ageyeva, head of the meteorological center in the Khabarovsk region, told RIA Novosti. “I would not laugh at those who say such things.”

Russian government has deep ties to its petroleum industry and preference goes to oil producing entities with little thought to the consequences of climate change. Most scientists in Russia expect little or no response from government unless the situation there continues to grow worse to the point where it begins to affect the profitability of government entrenched businesses.

Large, wet weather systems continue to converge over the Amur region as the Jet Stream delivers a stream of storms from the west and as Arctic storm systems ride down from the north along a deep trough. These converging rivers of air and moisture brought powerful storms, once again, to the already battered region today.

Amur Rain August 29

Amur Rain August 29

(Image source: Lance-Modis)

A similar Jet Stream pattern and moisture delivery system has been in place since late July, when evaporation spilling off the top of the Ocean Heat Dome near Shanghai dumped even more water vapor into an already overwhelming convergent flow. Since that time, a trough plunging down from the Arctic and a Jet Stream rushing across the continent have continued to link up over Amur, delivering storm after storm after storm. This is the kind of fixed, global warming-induced, weather pattern Dr. Jennifer Francis alluded to in her recent work at Rutgers and in her even more recent briefings to the US Congress.

(Hat Tip to Colorado Bob)



RIA Novosti

Ecologists Link Far East Floods to Global Warming

Leave a comment


  1. The China side of the river –
    Flash floods claim 85 lives in northeastern China
    Meanwhile, some 585,000 hectares of cropland as well as thousands of homes have been damaged there.
    Video with this report :
    The death toll in China continues to rise along with the water levels. Now standing at 85, more than 200,000 others have been evacuated from their homes as the country faces its worst flooding in more than a century.

    This is China’s wheat belt.

  2. I have been checking the mouth of the river , but the cloud cover is still too thick . The image we see when it clears will be staggering .

  3. HARBIN, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) — More than 1,200 oil wells in a crucial oil field have been shut down after floods swept northeast China, PetroChina Daqing Oilfield said on Thursday.

  4. james cole

     /  August 30, 2013

    This epic Russian flood, after the epic Siberian forest fires and heat wave? Really, is it just me, or are we seeing “Epic weather events” almost weekly now?
    Remember “Sandy”? That was epic! Remember the Western drought? I imagine nature has something else up her sleeve and these weather events are simply warning signs.
    I may be 100% wrong, But, I personally believe that the last two years have been the first stages in a climate flip, to a new more unstable state. Since I think this is the opening move, I can only speculate where we are in two more years time. I think the big Arctic melt, at sea and in the tundra, and the unhinged jet stream are the signs of a real climate shift brought on by the huge Co2 rise and the warming seas. I think the sea is somehow the trigger for the climate flip, that is where nearly ALL the heat is going, we know that sea determines climate zones.
    The deniers will have to up their game, because they sound increasingly like lunatics, given the evidence everyone now sees!

    • “Really, is it just me, or are we seeing “Epic weather events” almost weekly now?”

      It’s not just you, I’ve been filing them for years, but they are coming faster, and they are getting larger. And they don’t make the American press. This flood in China and Russia has never made our media. Even Joe Romm , and Dr. Masters have missed it .

      • They can’t keep up. Coming too fast.

        The mainstream media is killing me. We are living in a world where devastating climate news is mostly filtered out. The stuff that hits the US is muffled, the stuff overseas is barely mentioned. If it’s Russia — nothing. It has to hit Wall Street to get the front page.

        Signal suppressed…

        One thing that pricked my ears was a recent piece in The Watcher. Green Algae in Florida’s St Lucie River has sparked local protests. Wonder what the locals would think if they realized that half the cause was climate change (increased runoff due to higher rates of rainfall + increased temps is a haven for toxic algae blooms). That green algae is one of the varieties that produce lethal hydrogen sulfide. Huge manatee kills in the region this year.

    • Rapidly melting polar ice — sea ice, snow, glacial ice sheets, tundra — really screws with the weather. As for the oceans, I am not looking forward to the next PDO flip (if/when). All that heat heading toward the ocean bottom is a nasty sign, though. Means we are rapidly moving toward a stratified ocean state. Not at all good for sea life.

  5. If Russia is the Alpha , here’s the Omega –
    New Mexico is the driest of the dry

    I found this really sad –
    Wildlife managers are hauling water to elk herds in the mountains and blaming the drought for the unusually high number of deer and antelope killed on New Mexico’s highways, surmising that the animals are taking greater risks to find water.

    • But it’s true and somewhat unstoppable. Even if we stop emitting now, we have another degree or so of warming. Every model I see shows the southwest drying more under even such a modest regime. At 2-4 C, that whole region there is a Sahara. It’s ancient Egypt all over again. But, as the article says, we did this.

      Those cities and towns will start to have viability problems soon. 2020s will be extraordinarily rough. Large migrations before 2030s.

      • In New Mexico that point starts now. , I’ve been Chaco Canyon , I know about the murders at Yellow Jacket , North of Mesa Verde. Everybody gets-up one morning , and just leaves. Because there is no more water.

        This drought is hotter than the one that drove everyone off the 4 Corners.

      • Lewis Cleverdon

         /  September 1, 2013

        Robert – just how much warming we are committed to is to my mind the critical question, so I’m interested that you put it at “a degree or so” if emissions stopped today.
        Does that estimate include the unveiling of additional heat by the loss of the fossil sulphate parasol – which Hansen at al reported as raising realized warming by 110% (+/-30%) ?
        And I wonder also which of the now 8 mega feedbacks are accounted as some, such as albedo loss, are already significant drivers (reported in GRL in 2010 as providing warming equivalent to 30% of anthro CO2 output).

        Given that several of the feedbacks are directly diminishing the natural carbon sinks (ocean warming + plankton, wildfire, permafrost melt, soil dessication, etc) which will presumably raise the fraction of anthro CO2 phase-out emissions staying in the atmosphere, I’m unable to put together a spreadsheet that results in staying even near 2.0C by a rapid Emissions-Control-only treaty that cuts output to near-zero by 2050.

        The inference is that the additional mitigation strategies of Albedo Restoration and Carbon Recovery are now inevitably required if we are to avoid catastrophic drought and global crop failure, and the resulting geopolitical destabilization.

        If you come across anything with a bearing on these issues I’d be most grateful if you could put up a post on it. I get the impression that people are much better able to hear the full scale of the problems we’re unleashing if one also discusses the scale of the solutions required – how about you ?



  6. Sourabh

     /  August 30, 2013

    This is very close to my hometown I am visiting next month. In India, many regions received record rainfall this summer.

    • The state has received 1139.8mm of rainfall, which is in excess by 64 per cent, this monsoon. An average of 44.5mm was recorded in the state today, which is 323 per cent above normal. Betul and Hoshangabad recorded the highest rainfall of 188 mm and 181 mm today respectively.

      • Sourabh

         /  August 30, 2013


        I am sorry if I missed anything, but your comment just repeated what is in the article. Are you alluding to something?

    • Sorry to hear. Those shots don’t look much different from what we’re seeing in Russia. Hope all are OK in your hometown.

  7. Dia

     /  August 30, 2013

    Nonsense. It’s all a hoax!
    (Although for a hoax it’s getting kinda amazingly consistent planet-wide…..)

  8. i guess i don’t travel in mainstream circles (and that includes huff, sott, dailymail etc.) cause i find a LOT of news every single day about weird weather events. so i don’t get why ya’ll keep saying there’s no news…there’s tons of it! robert did you catch the article about the 120.000 alpacas freezing to death in a recent cold snap in chile…? and how about the big herd of elk that dropped dead the same day…? anomalous cold hitting south american regions. or what about 3-4 days ago, the haboob in washington state, the very next day a tornado, tennis ball sized hail, and 50 people evacced from apartments due to flooding? this is all just the last few days…and not even close to all the news! here in portland we were tornado warned day before yesterday (they were way off track tho, the tornado hit washington state north of the warned area). also i found this this morning and would like to pass it on for interest and truth about fukushima (always looking to derail disinfo, i am!)

    also just can’t resist making a fan comment…thank you so very much, as always, robert, for the great write-ups, sharing your personal experiences and feelings eloquently, and being a general all around informed, wise, and exceedingly intelligent big-picture thinker.

    • ” did you catch the article about the 120.000 alpacas freezing to death in a recent cold snap in chile…?”

      Wild Weather in South America
      On August 29th the temperature soared to 32.6°C (90.7°F) at Bahia Blanca, Argentina, an all-time record for the month of August. This follows a reading of -7.9°C (17.8°F) recorded on August 25th, their all-time record low for the month! The site has a POR (period of record) of over 100 years. Their normal daily range of temperature during August is 9.2°C-16.0°C (49°F-61°F).

  9. Human – and political – toll is rising, just like the floodwater from the Amur River
    By The Siberian Times reporter01 September 2013
    The health toll statistics came as the Amur River waters continued their inexorable rise to an all-time high of 7.73 metres, amid forecasts that Khabarovsk city will face large scale evacuations in the coming days. The level of 7.8 metres has been designated as the danger point triggering mass evacuations amid fears that dikes will not hold back the water.

    The lives of more than 100,000 have been disrupted by the flooding and 8,400 have required rescue by the Russian Army.

    These figures are destined to rise significantly over the coming month.

    • The flooding has hit an area as big as Germany, France and the UK combined, say reports, amid claims that global warning is behind the natural disaster.

    • The Siberian Times images are important , notice how they look like rain is about to fall at any minute.

  10. A clear image of the discharge of the Amur 9-2-2013 :

  11. Some news from the warming oceans…

    World ocean heat content and thermosteric sea level change (0 – 2000 m), 1955 – 2010

  12. Amur River floods more areas in Russian Far East

    September 3, 2013 Tatiana Dmitrakova, special to RBTH
    The Amur River has started to recede in some places along its mid-section by between 2 inches and 1.6 feet per day. Freezing cold will come in late September to the area where thousands of homes have been permanently damaged.

    “We’ve been living in the attic for almost a month. The water is waist-deep inside the house and it’s impossible to stay there — it’s damp and moldy everywhere,” Marina Maslova, who lives in the village of Vladimirovka, said despondently. “Today we applied for a place to stay in a hostel, and we hope to move to normal living conditions soon.”

  13. Hundreds evacuated after floods break dam in Russia’s flood-hit Far East

    Published time: September 07, 2013 13:02

  14. Hey Robert,

    You will find this video relevant to your interests.

  15. Steve

     /  September 10, 2013

    Hi Robert! I hope everything is going well and you are just busy with your new book. I miss reading new reports on your blog. I hope nobody has recently deemed you as dangerous and is causing problems for you!

  16. You Can See The Historic Flooding On The Chinese-Russian Border From Space

  17. Nancy

     /  September 12, 2013

    I hope Robert is taking a long vacation. Robert, where are you? You are missed.

  18. New epic flooding …………..
    “The rainfall totals from when this event began are going to be record breaking, they already have been,” said Kerry Jones, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Albuquerque.

    Jones said it’s likely some areas could see 6 to 10 inches of rain by the weekend. In one spot in the Guadalupe Mountains of southern New Mexico, more than 11 inches fell in a 24-hour period, which forecasters described as “unbelievable.”

    Tonight Boulder is getting all the headlines , the Guadalupe Mountains are over 600 miles to the south . This sounds like the same thing we’ve been seeing , except with steep mountains.

  19. RS –
    Read this it’s very well done :
    Pacific Ocean takes perilous turn | Sea Change: Ocean acidification

    “Imagine every person on Earth tossing a hunk of CO2 as heavy as a bowling ball
    into the sea. That’s what we do to the oceans every day.

    Burning fossil
    fuels, such as coal, oil and natural gas, belches carbon dioxide into the air.
    But a quarter of that CO2 then gets absorbed by the seas — eight pounds per
    person per day, about 20 trillion pounds a year.

  20. RS –
    You need to come back , we need your help. And your words and insight. If you don’t you’re just Al Gore .

    • lewiscleverdon

       /  September 18, 2013

      Bob – I hope he’s alright – beside the stress of consistently focussing his writing on the threat without a balancing focus on commensurate mitigation, his are the most fluent and unrestrained expressions of the threat – which will generate animosity.
      With any luck he’s just stepped back for a bit.



      • Steve

         /  September 20, 2013

        I have the same concern Lewis. I can’t believe we didn’t hear a peep from him with what just happened in Colorado, Mexico, & New Mexico. Hopefully, he is just burned out and will feel up to returning soon.

      • In all honesty, it is exhausting. And I haven’t had too much of a break as I’ve been out doing my usual fall visits/events, which are also very energy intensive. I apologize for dropping off the radar without leaving a note. But the break has given me a chance to reorganize my thoughts on a number of issues including setting context for sea ice, ocean surface temperature warming in August, and a summer of century to millenial floods occurring throughout 2013.

        I also tend to go through a postpartum style depression each time I finish a book. So putting Growth Shock out took a lot from me.

        I have a mission to keep writing and setting context, though. So, after this hiatus, I’m back.

        Thank you for your concern and your kind words. And, yes, this isn’t easy but it’s something that must be done.

        Warmest regards to you, Lewis.

  21. Robert you are such an important resource.

    Thank you for all you do.
    I hope that all is well with you.

    Please let us know if you’re doing okay
    and if not, is there is anything that we can do to help you.

    Know that we’re thinking of you and that
    we really appreciate all that you do.

    You have one of the best sites on the web.

    Fighting Bob
    (a ht to the heart and soul of the Progressive Movement,
    Wisconsin’s Fighting Bob LaFollette.)

    • Thank you sir!

      I am back from a month of travel and events. I will be back to my regular writing/posting schedule this week. Thank you for your concern and your kind words.

      Warmest regards to you!


  22. little feat – time loves a hero

  23. “Time loves to be wasted. From that waste there can be no salvage”-Henry Ford

  24. the virgin terry

     /  September 21, 2013

    mr. scribbler, i hope u will be so kind as to respond to a claim guy mcpherson just made regarding something u purportedly had written re. the recent awful heat wave in china, with wet bulb temps. coming dangerously close to the deadly 35c threshold. first, apparently based on your writing, guy claimed that wet bulb temps. had already exceeded that threshold. when i investigated this claim and pointed out it’s lack of supporting evidence, including a link to the relevant post from your blog, guy is now claiming this:

    ‘Scribbler apparently revised his essay: Earlier he wrote that thousands of Chinese were dying because of wet-bulb temperatures in excess of 35 C.’

    simple question: did u indeed write this, and later revise it? your response will be greatly appreciated.

    • The short answer is no.

      The longer answer is that I warned of wet bulb temperatures approaching the 35 C range. If memory serves, they fell shy by about 5C — very hot and humid, resulting in extreme risk of heat injury and death, but not above the, very dangerous, 35 C level.

      I had indicated an outside risk (low), that the 35C level could be reached and had posted the article as a warning due to the anomalous ocean heat dome conditions during late July and early August. Clearly these levels were not reached or exceeded though very unpleasant temps from 104 to 110+ and high humidity for such high temps (50% approx) were reached.

      Overall impact due to this heat wave remains a bit murky. In China, Japan, and Korea, it appears that around 150-200 are reported to have lost their lives in the most recent heat wave. Others, including weather historian for Weatherunderground Christopher Burt, have noted that such extreme heatwaves usually result in more deaths. That said, it is possible that people in this region are better adapted to extreme heat than those in Europe or other places seeing extreme loss of life in recent heatwaves.

      Please give Guy my best regards. That said, please also let him know that wet bulb temperatures did not exceed 35C in these regions, even though there were times when we did get into spitting distance of that very high mark.

    • Here is the exact quote from my earlier article, unrevised:

      “Forecasts for tomorrow and Friday are showing Shanghai temperatures will probably reach at least 107-108 degrees Fahrenheit (42 C) in an area where relative humidity is forecast to be 50% and where barometric pressures are forecast to remain around 1005 millibars of mercury. This brings us to the extraordinarily dangerous high wet bulb temperature of 33 degrees Celsius. And should thermometers crack 113 degrees (F) under those same temperature and pressure conditions, Earth will have achieved a new and very ominous wet bulb temperature record of 35 degrees Celsius.”

      Looking over heat and humidity data, it appears we hit between 30-33 C on a few days for a few hours but did not crack the 35C mark. Further, the above statement does not indicate a breaching of the mark, just an approach with a risk of breaking it.

      Also, there are people who are saying thousands died. In this case, we only have confirmation of dozens of lives lost. As noted above, a heat wave of this caliber usually results in more lives lost and there is some speculation that the Chinese and others are under-reporting. That said, it is possible, as noted above, that people in this region are better adapted. In lieu of more information, we should cautiously assume that the official numbers are correct. And, if so, thank goodness. Bullet dodged in this case…

  25. the virgin terry

     /  September 25, 2013

    robert, thanks for the prompt courteous detailed response.

    btw, the warmest wet bulb temp. i can recall experiencing was very close to 25c. i, like most others to my understanding, find that level quite oppressive. i can only imagine what 30+c feels like. maybe like close to dying, which in fact happens to be quite true. i suspect the speculation of minimizing the number of deaths by official accounts might be true. after all, the shanghai area is among the most populous in the world. i think u noted in one of your articles that the population affected by the intense heat-humidity was about 400 million. it does seem highly likely that more than 1 in a million would succumb to it.

    • It’s a very densely populated area and China has been known to cover things up from time to time. Climate is a sensitive, political issue these days. So, unfortunately, reporting on those incidents can be subject to those influences. I don’t want to get tin foil hat on this one, though. If there are more fatalities, it will be tough covering them up long-term. And, you’re right, the conditions there were hellish. I had a friend who came back from the region recently whose health had visibly deteriorated from both the heat and the terrible air quality.

  26. Grateful Dead – Hell in a Bucket

    • Anyone ever tell you, you’re the best, Bob? Sad to say I’ve never seen these guys in concert. So, I suppose the snakes have had a hey day?

  27. RS –
    The old quote from the 18th & 19th century :
    “I am as always your obedient servant “

  28. Nancy

     /  September 25, 2013

    Welcome back, Robert. It has been a busy few weeks, with the deniers working overtime in anticipation of the IPCC report. I agree with Colorado Bob……we need all the help we can get!

  29. Steve

     /  September 25, 2013

    I think you’re about the right age to appreciate this…

  30. Steve

     /  September 25, 2013

    Sorry for the slight delay at the beginning. Even those guys would be bright enough to see that we have HUGE problems in progress and BIGGER ones down the pike!

    What you went through is what happened to me after every marathon I’ve run. It takes about 30 days for me to emotionally and physically recover after one, whether it goes good or bad!

    • You’re right. It is kinda like running a marathon. We expect ourselves to be able to bounce back immediately from a huge effort. Unfortunately, the human body/mind has limits too 🙂

  31. Welcome back, Robert. During your absence the denialists have been hard at work — someone leaked some info to the Daily Mail which appears to implicate that the IPCC was caving to them!

    • Wow. I suppose dirty money is as manic as ever. Sometimes I wonder if the work ethic is really all that ethical. I suppose it’s a question of whether or not you do good or bad work!

      Will be taking a look at the latest attacks.

      • Thanks — Sam Caranas at Arctic-News duly picked apart the Daily Mail’s attack article. Should you do likewise more power to you! :^)

  32. Terra/MODIS
    01:45 UTC

    A clear image of the Amur River discharge into the Tartary Strait.

  33. Tropical Storm Karen heading for the Soitheast US. Could cause a lot of flooding like in Russia if the Jet Stream meander is still there, setting a trough over the Piedmont or U.S. Eastern Seaboard!

  34. Disregard that… Karen appears to be fizzling out like a Roman Candle. But the blizzard, thunderstorms, hail and tornados on the Great Plains; and fires out West make for some interesting reading! Link: Jeff Master’s blog post for Saturday.

  1. Radio Ecoshock Interview: Record Floods, ENSO, Methane Release, and Slope Collapse | robertscribbler
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  3. Arctic ‘Heat Wave’ to Rip Polar Vortex in Half, Shatter Alaska’s All-Time Record High for January? | robertscribbler
  4. Arctic ‘Heat Wave’ to Rip Polar Vortex in Half, Shatter Alaska’s All-Time Record High for January? | 2 Degrees Centigrade

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