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Cold-Season Storms and Extreme River Flooding in Belarus

Paper Reviewed
Partasenok, I.S., Groisman, P.Y., Chekan, G.S. and Melnik, V.I. 2014. Winter cyclone frequency and following freshet streamflow formation on the rivers in Belarus. Environmental Research Letters 9: 10.1088/1748-9326/9/095005.

Partasenok et al. (2014) set the stage for their study of post-World War II river flooding in Belarus by noting that the hydrological regime of the rivers of that country is controlled by both the number and temporal distribution of precipitation-producing cyclones that move across it, citing Loginov (1996) and Nekrasova (2004), while further noting that in the cold season of each year, the total amount of precipitation received additionally depends upon the nature of the cyclones moving across Belarus, citing Babkin and Klige (2005).

In harmony with these facts, the four researchers used cyclone tracks derived by means of the cyclone tracking algorithm developed by Zolina and Gulev (2002) together with two reanalyses developed by Kalnay et al. (1996) and Dee et al. (2011), along with a third dataset of cyclones based on the 20th Century Reanalysis v2 of Compo et al. (2011), as their means for ultimately calculating long-term fluctuations of streamflow and occurrence of extreme phenomena on the rivers of Belarus following the end of World War II. And what were the fruits of their labor?

Partasenok et al. determined that (1) "annual runoff within the nation has no constant tendencies and varies from year to year," but that (2) since the 1970s there has been an "increase of winter and decrease of spring streamflow," such that as they describe in their abstract "the frequency of extreme floods has decreased." And in discussing this finding further, they write that "these changes in water regime are associated with climatic anomalies (increase of the surface air temperatures) caused by large-scale alterations in atmospheric circulation, specifically in trajectories of cyclones."

And so it is that warming over and around Belarus has led, quoting Partasenok et al., "to a decrease of spring streamflow and the reduction of the number of strong inundations across Belarus."

Babkin, V.I. and Klige, P.K. 2005. The mechanism of moistening and streamflow formation in the East European Plain. Water Resources 32: 101-106.

Compo, G.P., Whitaker, J.S., Sardeshmukh, P.D., Matsui, N., Allan, R.J., Yin, X., Gleason, E. Jr., Vose, R.S., Rutledge, G., Bessemoulin, P., Bronnimann, Brunet, M., Crouthamel, R.I., Grant, A.N., Groisman, P.Y., Jones, P.D., Kruk, M.C., Kruger, A.C., Marshall, G.J., Maugeri, M., Mok, H.Y., Nordli, ě., Ross, T.F., Trigo, R.M., Wang, X.L., Woodruff, S.D. and Worleyu, S.J. 2011. The twentieth century reanalysis project. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society 137: 1-28.

Dee, D.P., Uppala, S.M., Simrnons, A.J., Berrisford, P., Poli, P., Kobayashi, S., Andrae, U., Balmaseda, M.A., Balsamo, G., Bauer, P., Bechtold, P., Beljaars, A.C.M., van de Berg, L., Bidlot, J., Bormann, N., Delsol, C., Dragani, R., Fuentes, M., A. J. Geer, A.J., Haimberger, L., Healy, S.B., Hersbach, H., Isaksen, L., KÔllberg, K˘hler, P.M., Matricardi, M., McNally, A.P., Monge-Sanz, B.M., Morcrette, J.-J., Park, B.-K., Peubey, C., de Rosnay, P., Tavolato, C., ThÚpaut, J.-N. and Vitar, F. 2011. The ERA-Interim reanalysis: configuration and performance of the data assimilation system. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society 137: 553-828.

Kalnay, E., Kanamitsu, M., Kistler, R., Collins, W., Deaven, D., Gandin, L., Iredell, M., Saha, S., White, G., Woollen, J., Zhu, Y., Chelliah, M., Ebisuzaki, W., Higgins, W., Janowiak, J., Mo, K.C., Ropelewski, C., Wang, J., Leetmaa, A., Reynolds, R., Jenne, R. and Joseph, D. 1996. The NCEP/NCAR 40-year reanalysis project. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 77: 437-470.

Loginov, V.F. 1996. Climate of Belarus. Minsk: IGN NAB.

Nekrasova, L.I. 2004. Influence of climate warming on hydrological regime of rivers of Belarus during 1988-2002. Fresh Water Resources Management: Materials of XXIII Nordic Hydrological Conference. Talin: Estonian Meteorological and Hydrological Institute.

Zolina, O. and Gulev, S.K. 2002. Improving accuracy of mapping cyclone numbers and frequencies. Monthly Weather Review 130: 748-759.

Posted 17 March 2015