Moscow Swelters as Temperature Soar
Photographs by John Bonar
If anyone doubted the validity of global warming this summer has been salutary. Since May temperatures have been soaring. The North Pole ice cap is shrinking so fast that Russia, Denmark and Canada are all in a race to secure territorial claims and with them the rights to mineral wealth believed to be under the seabed. The rising temperatures now make it feasible to explore for oil and mine minerals in what were previously impossible conditions.
In May of this year record-breaking temperatures sent the Mercury soaring. The Russian capital had not seen such a sustained streak of hot weather in May for 128 years. May 27 the thermometers hit 32.9 Celsius and the animals in the Moscow Zoo found it hard to keep cool. Staff had to prevent walruses from bathing in their pool because the water was too warm.
In July, passengers baking in an S7 airliner grounded on the tarmac at Nizhny Novgorod for five hours revolted at the 40 degree cabin temperature and forced their way out of the Tu-154M airplane using emergency exits. The passengers were kept waiting in the aircraft without any information about the delay or the expected departure time. One passenger was reported to have sustained a head injury as he fell from the plane to the runway and a further passenger lost consciousness as she left the plane. This is not the first time this year that Moscow has experienced record temperatures in an unusually warm year, with March 21 being the warmest day in 125 years, and January being the mildest since observations began 130 years ago.
In August the heat continued unabated in Moscow. Record breaking temperatures of 32, 33 and 34 Celsius were all recorded by the Meteorological Service.
The exceptional heat is aggravated by rather unfavorable environmental conditions. Air contamination was 10 percent to 30 percent above the standard, representatives of Mosecomonitoring said, blaming it on poor movement of air.
A high-pressure system from Scandinavia was blamed. Tatyana Pozdnyakova of the Moscow Weather Bureau explained that the is receiving warm air from Kazakhstan.
The surprisingly high temperatures have sent droves of people to seek relief in city fountains, ponds, and the river, causing more than a few alcohol-induced drowning accidents, an apparent neglect of undergarments, and a robust appetite for ice cream.
"Ice cream makers have been unable to deliver enough ice cream," the Russian ice cream union head Valery Yelhov said. "Between 150-200 metric tons is being sold daily in the capital, and sales have grown 50-60% in the past few days." Yelhov said “seems to have scared all the bras indoors. I can’t walk 200 metres to the metro without encountering bosoms bouncing without a care under some flimsy top. Let’s be clear – I am not a bra fascist, but Moscow seems to have become the headquarters of the Breast Liberation Army. Perhaps in the extreme heat , the Muscovite Woman is hallucinating that she is actually on the beach in Turkey. Or perhaps having kept her bootie under wraps all winter, she thinks the time has come to strut her stuff in the yard. Oddly enough, this phenomenon isn’t confined to the stick-thinwannabe- posh-spice-types.”