A cyclone extends Eastern Siberia's freezing winter into its coldest in modern Russian history
In a new blow to the climate change lobby, Russia's top weatherman today announced that the winter now drawing to a close in Siberia may turn out to be the coldest on record.

'The winter of 2009-10 was one of the most severe in European part of Russia for more than 30 years, and in Siberia it was perhaps the record breaking coldest ever,' said Dr Alexander Frolov, head of state meteorological service Rosgidromet.

Statistics are still being analysed in detail, but it is known that in western Siberia the mean temperature was minus 23.2C, with more colder days than in previous years.

Some 63 days were colder than minus 25C and 39 days below minus 30C.

For this part of Siberia, this represents the coldest conditions in 40 years and the second harshest winter in 110 years.

Equivalent statistics for colder eastern Siberia have not been issued yet.

The coldest recorded temperature in the recent winter is believed to have been minus 57.4C degrees in Oymyakon on 20 January.

The remote town in eastern Siberia is the coldest inhabited community in the world.

'When we say that this winter in Siberia was record breaking, we are aware that temperatures on some days of other years may have gone lower, but in the most recent winter the substantial cold was staying longer than usual and over larger regions than usual,' said Dmitry Kiktev, deputy head of Rosgidromet.

'There were periods of so-called "monotonous cold" when the weather was less diverse, and the cold remained strong and stable to record levels.'

Mr Frolov also offered bad news for Russians hoping for a speedy respite from the long winter.

'We can officially say that beginning of the spring in Russia is postponed for another seven to 10 days,' he warned.

The Urals and Siberia would continue to face 'winter-like temperatures' well into April, while European Russia would be below average, he said.

© CorbisBeryozovka, Russia: The beginning of the spring in Russia has been postponed for another seven to 10 days, according to a Russian weatherman
Climate change adherents say the planet is warming due to man-made factors but Russian expert Professor Arkady Tishkov said yesterday that Siberia and the world are in fact getting colder.

'From a scientific point of view, talk about increasing average temperatures on earth of several degrees are absurd,' he said.

'Of course we can't say that global warming is a myth and falsification. In many regions of planet the temperature is higher than expected because of human impact.

'But the climate system of the planet is changing according to different cycles - from several years to thousand of years.

'From the scientific point of view, in terms of large scale climate cycles, we are in a period of cooling.

'The last three years of low temperatures in Siberia, the Arctic and number of Russia mountainous regions prove that, as does the recovery of ice in the Arctic Ocean and the absence of warming signs in Siberia.'

Mr Tishkov, deputy head of the Geography Institute at Russian Academy of Science, said: 'What we have been watching recently is comparatively fast changes of climate to warming, but within the framework of an overall long-term period of cooling. This is a proven scientific fact.

'The recent warming - and we are talking tenths of a degree at most - is caused by human activity, like forest elimination, the changing of landscapes.

'The greenhouse gases so much discussed now do not in fact play big role. We have to remember that all the impact of industrial enterprises in Russia cannot be compared with one volcano eruption on our planet.'

On the latest Siberian statistics, Mr Kiktev said: 'This winter does not prove that global warming is a myth, just as recent warm winters do not prove it does exist.

'These are just small peaks in the climate process. What they show, if anything, we will be able to judge in tens of years from now.'