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The heat wave in Russia

Last Updated: Friday, 06 March 2015 11:33

V. Larin, N. Larin

The causes of the abnormal heat wave and some forecasts from everyman’s point of view

The abnormally high temperature in the European Russia made meteorologists face the general public and forced them to confess that they were completely unaware of the causes of this phenomenon. It was interesting to watch the evolution of terminology. At first they talked about an anticyclone, but anticyclones (like any cyclones) are atmospheric vortexes, which move along the surface of the planet at a speed of 30-40 km per hour. However, the Russian "anticyclone" stood still, and in two weeks it was called a "blocking anticyclone". Within 50 days it became impossible to keep calling the phenomenon an anticyclone (i.e. a vortex). This would be a refusal to see the obvious, and on August, 12 the director of the Russian Meteorology Centre Roman Vilfand used the new term "atmospheric block".


Such a play on terms definitely showed that the meteorologists had finally realized: “the heat wave in Russia” couldn’t be explained by existing models of the atmosphere’s behavior therefore something new had to be found. Trying to make up something "new" out of the existing models complementing them with factors that previously were not considered is obviously useless. The question is why were some factors previously ignored? Most likely because they are of minor importance and can’t change the customary weather phenomena radically. Therefore, even thoroughly detailed traditional models can’t explain the phenomenon of heat wave in Moscow. Meteorologists are perfectly aware of this. To protect themselves meteorologists try to assure us that atmospheric phenomena are too complicated to be fully understood. Therefore, they can only be predicted with some degree of probability, and such phenomenon as the Moscow Heat, which is considered to be random and unpredictable because of the complexity of the system’s dynamics, may occur from time to time. This way they try to relieve themselves of responsibility for not discovering the actual cause. The director of the Russian Meteorology Centre Mr. Vilfand determined the probability of recurrence of such phenomenon as 1/5000, i.e. once in 5000 years, and announced that on air to calm down the audience of many millions. But this statement looked too unsubstantial.

Thus, meteorologists promise us an ordinary weather, which may be predicted for 4-5 days with a probability of 80%, warning about the possibility of unpredictable heat and drought, which occurs suddenly but no more than once in 5 thousand years. That’s something you can consent to, right? Or there is something held back? It is hard to believe that a giant long-living "atmospheric block" could be formed due to accidental coincidence of many short-living factors, because “something" had to maintain its anomalous stability.

We will talk about that "something" below, but at first we need to discuss (or rather to mark) some aspects of the new global phenomenon, which was recently discovered and isn’t officially mentioned in the Earth sciences yet.

Some facts about the Earth and Hydrogen


We discovered an abnormally high content of hydrogen in the subsoil air in European Russia. The researches have shown that the release of hydrogen streams from the depths of the planet causes such a phenomenon. Typical "ring-shaped structures of subsidence" with diameters ranging from 100 m to several kilometers are formed near the outlets of hydrogen streams. We have been studying this phenomenon (previously unknown) since 2005, and now we can state that it is widely manifested. You can see several satellite photos of these "hydrogen structures" below.


The ring-shaped structures of subsidence at the outlets of hydrogen streams on the black earth field a few kilometers away from Lipetsk. The depth ranges from 3 to 5 meters, the diameters range from 100 to 250 m.

The ring-shaped structure at the outlet of a hydrogen stream in the black earth area with a diameter of 2,5 km and a depth of 10-12 meters, its center is swampy, the black round area is a lake.

Lipetsk region in winter: the black area is wood, the light one represents the snow-covered fields with windbreaks and curved roads. Low sun enables to see the ring structures precisely.

Ring structures in the northwestern part of the Volgograd region. Pay attention to the sharp clarification of the black earth in the areas of hydrogen degassing. We call this phenomenon "hydrogen bleaching”.

As a result of hydrogen bleaching the black humus component of the black earth almost disappears. Humus consists of long organic molecules of complex composition. They are not saturated with hydrogen, so these carbon atoms are linked together in long chains, rings or other structures. When there is an excess of hydrogen in the subsoil air its atoms get between the carbon atoms and therefore the long molecules break into short segments, which are mostly volatile hydrocarbon gases and so they disperse quickly. A half-meter-thick layer of black earth can produce 10 grams of methane from each square centimeter in the process of full hydrogen-bleaching of humus. There is only 1000 grams of atmosphere above each square centimeter, and 10/1000 is 1%. Thus, hydrogen bleaching can pollute the atmosphere with hydrocarbon gases.

Hydrogenometry – the new method of measuring hydrogen concentration
Talented Russian physicists invented completely unique hydrogen gas analyzers. There are no such devices anywhere else in the world. These are compact devices able to measure the concentration of hydrogen (in the mixture of other gases or in the air) ranging from several ppm (parts per million) to 16 000 ppm (i.e. up to 1.6%). It is especially convenient in fieldwork.
A steel rod (with a diameter of 13 mm) is hammered in the soil to a depth of 1.2 meters. It is carefully pulled out with the help of a lever jack, and a probe (a thin tube with drilled holes at the bottom) is put into the hole very quickly. The probe is immediately nipped with moist soil to prevent the diffusion of the subsoil gas in the atmosphere. The pump sucks the subsoil gas down through the probe and thin hoses into the gas analyzer, and in a minute the concentration of hydrogen is displayed.
For a geologist (and we geologists) getting the results of any measurements directly in the field is a great happiness. Previously it was impossible. This provoked an outburst of enthusiasm, and we got numerous results, and in two years it became absolutely clear that the hydrogen degassing of the planet is a grand phenomenon.
At this stage Andrew Gorbatikov joined us, the one who has developed the unique method of microseismic sounding. Applying this method, we systematically faced the fact that the subsoil hydrogen anomalies detected near the surface were associated with roots that go down to the deep horizons of the planet. These roots are determined as fragments of deep ruptures of the crust. We are more inclined to interpret them as vertical piped zones.
New interesting facts were revealed during further researches. Moist soil contains almost no hydrogen. But some 15-20 cm below, in subsurface soil, the hydrogen concentration may be hundreds or thousands of ppm. We couldn’t understand this strange phenomenon for a long time. Hydrogen diffusion in the moist soil is hindered to some extent (in comparison with diffusion in the gas phase). However, the soil can’t be regarded as an effective hydrogen shielding. As long as we were unfamiliar with the information about the "hydrogen bacteria" it was completely unclear why hydrogen concentration in the soil is nearly zero when hydrogen rises from the depth of tens of kilometers. "Hydrogen bacteria" are microorganisms that live in soil and use energy produced by chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen for their vital functions. Under warm temperature conditions in moist soil they are capable to double their mass in a few hours. When the soil is dry hydrogen bacteria go into suspended animation.

The soil is moist and hydrogen bacteria (represented by yellow dots) prosper, and hydrogen (represented by blue color) is in the subsurface soil.

If the soil is overdried and there are shrinkage cracks we usually can’t detect hydrogen in the subsoil zone. Moreover, when the shrinkage cracks are well-developed our devices show paradoxical results: hydrogen concentration in the surface air is greater than that of the subsoil air. The following figure explains the reason of this phenomenon.

When the soil is overdried hydrogen leaks through the shrinkage cracks into the atmosphere and the subsoil air releases all its hydrogen.

Nobody searched for outlets of deep hydrogen purposefully before we did. Previously it happened that during the drilling of wells a fountain of gas spouted out of the well, flared up and burned without smoke. Of course, analyses were made. And when it turned out that the fountain consisted not of methane but of hydrogen, it wasn’t paid attention to, because then nobody was interested in hydrogen (for example, a hydrogen torch from a depth of 380 meters occurred on kimberlite pipe "Udachnaya" drilled in 1950-ies in Yakutia). According to the analyses this deep hydrogen always contained about 10% of methane - CH4. This is quite logical as hydrogen is a chemically active element, so if it passes through carbon-containing rocks an admixture of methane will probably be generated.
We haven’t tested the subsoil gas for methane content on the Russian platform. But if there is deep hydrogen, it definitely contains an admixture of methane.

Hydrogen blocking during winter
Russian winter freezes the upper soil layer to solid state. Hydrogen diffusion in solids practically doesn’t occur. Hydrogen accumulates beneath the frozen earth, and starts coming out only in spring. Our old friend and colleague geologist Simon Beskin discovered the appearance of strange hillocks on the unplowed fields and meadows in spring. These hillocks are 0.5-0.6 m high and porous.

Ants or moles have nothing to do with the occurrence of these hillocks. But once the porous hillocks appear ants and other animals readily occupy them. Now we know that it is soil full of gas bubbles. The inner surface of these bubbles is smooth and dense (as if "plastered") and they are isolated from each other. The “plaster” obviously has an organic base and is likely to have something to do with hydrogen bacteria.

Spring 2008. Dmitrov district of the Moscow region.

In 2007, 2008 and 2009, this phenomenon frequently occurred in the central regions of European Russia (winters were soft then). According to our data the appearance of hillocks is connected with the spring release of blocked hydrogen. However, in spring 2010 new hillocks didn’t appear. The fact doesn’t mean that the process of degassing has stopped. Do you remember last winter’s hard and long-lasting frost? The earth was frozen to a greater depth, and hydrogen was blocked at a respectively greater depth (far under the soil layer), which prevented the formation of porous hillocks.
The last but not the least aspect: according to our data Moscow, Moscow region and surrounding areas are within an extensive “regional” hydrogen anomaly. There are comparatively few ring-shaped structures resulting from the release of hydrogen streams, but hydrogen concentration is extremely high.

Concerning the reasons of the abnormal heat
• The severe winter 2010 froze the ground to a depth of about two meters and sealed the deep hydrogen’s (with an admixture of methane) outlets to the surface. During the whole long-lasting winter they were accumulating in the surface zone.
• The lower layer of the frozen ground thawed out only in June, but by this time the soil had already been dry due to the weather, hydrogen bacteria went into suspended animation, and deep shrinkage cracks were formed.
• The outlets were open and huge emissions of hydrogen and methane accumulated over the winter were released on a vast territory. "Huge emissions" weren’t released at once, it was a lasting process but it probably didn’t last longer than the process of accumulation.
• By a complete calm (i.e. the absence of turbulence) these light gases dispersed in the atmosphere according to their molecular weight and formed a “dome” above the troposphere over the Russian platform.
• The upper part of this "dome", mainly consisting of hydrogen, was within the ozone layer. Hydrogen “ate away” the ozone quickly; and a huge amount of solar radiation was received.
• The presence of high concentrations of methane, other hydrocarbons and other gases in the atmosphere provoked the greenhouse effect.
• As a result, the temperature rose and the heat set in.
• The fires worsened the situation.
• The quantity of hydrogen degassing emissions (with an admixture of methane) was sufficient to keep the "dome" structure stable.
• In the second half of August the stock of hydrogen accumulated over the winter ran low. The volume of hydrogen that was being released to the surface lessened and the “dome” began to fall apart without a proper support. The ozone layer recovered and blocked the ultraviolet rays. The number of daylight hours diminished and the sun became much lower. As a result the solar radiation sharply decreased. What could be burned - burned, the fires stopped.
• The heat has receded, and the westerly winds finally purged the Russian Plain. Rains moistened the soil, starving hydrogen bacteria woke up and Mr. Vilfand’s “Atmospheric block" finally collapsed.

Could our version be checked?
It can be easily checked.
• If the “dome” above the troposphere over the Russian plain existed, the pressure in the upper parts of the troposphere should be heightened against the norm, but not high (!).
• A “hole” in the ozone layer should have existed above the central regions.
These anomalies had to be stable during the whole period of the Moscow heat. Meteorologists should have such information, but for some reason they are not eager to share it.
If such anomalies weren’t observed, we owe our readers an apology for stealing their time.

A forecast.
What can make this disaster recur? A long frosty winter and a small drought in early summer provoking the occurrence of shrinkage cracks would be quite enough. In recent years, long winters (without any thaws) have become a rarity. So may be everything is going to be fine (!?).
But there’s one unpleasant aspect. According to our observations the degassing of deep hydrogen on the Russian Plain intensifies with the lapse of time. And the word "time" refers not to the geological time, but to our fast human time. So long severe winters may be unnecessary in the near future.

P.S. The appearance of this text was provoked by the coincidence of fires’ locations and hydrogen degassing areas. But perhaps it’s just a coincidence.
P.P.S. Here is a fragment of a letter from a Doctor of Geological and Mineralogical Sciences V.L. Syvorotkin: "In support of your and my own point of view I inform you that the beginning of heat coincides in time and place with the occurrence of the ozone anomaly, and the end - with its disappearance."