September 09th, 2010 | China Daily Climate change resulting in wild weather in China
The country has suffered extremely abnormal weather this year as a result of climate change, weather researchers said.
“Since last winter, events related to high temperatures, such as droughts, have been severe, and heavier-than-usual rains have hit some parts of the country, causing mudslides and flooding,” Ren Guoyu, chief expert of the National Climate Center, said on the sidelines of the 21st Century Forum that started on Tuesday.
Ren is also a compiler of data for the second National Assessment Report on Climate Change, which is considered to be China’s equivalent of the international Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment report. The national assessment has more specific information about China, Ren said.
The assessment guides the country’s future plans related to the climate. The first report was released in 2006 and the second one will be published before the end of the year, he said.
Research has shown that in the past 50 to 60 years, China has experienced more high-temperature-related weather events such as droughts and heavier rainfalls, Ren said.
Most parts of the country have suffered from droughts, especially in the northern areas along rivers and oceans. On the flip side, torrential downpours have battered the country’s western regions for the past five to six decades, he said.
From last winter to early summer this year, southern and southwestern regions like Yunnan, Guizhou and Sichuan provinces, as well as the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region and the Chongqing municipality, have suffered severe droughts.
The dry weather affected nearly 6.1 million hectares of farmland and left at least 18 million people short of drinking water, Chen Lei, deputy commander-in-chief of the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters, said in March.
Some parts of Guizhou did not receive substantial precipitation for more than 200 days, the local meteorological bureau said.
“The severe drought is an extremely abnormal weather event this year that is related to rising temperatures,” Ren said.
The flooding season has also been severe, with torrential downpours sweeping across parts of the country. More than 3,100 people died in the inclement weather and 1,067 others were left missing from Jan 1 to Aug 31 this year, according to the latest statistics from the Ministry of Civil Affairs.
The floods, considered to be the worst in the past decade, caused crop failure in 2.66 million hectares of farmland and the collapse of 2.11 million houses, with direct economic losses of more than 350 billion yuan ($52 billion), ministry figures show.
A devastating mudslide in Northwest China’s Gansu province last month also left at least 1,471 dead and 294 missing as of Sept 1, Xinhua News Agency reported.
“These mudslides are the result of unusually heavy rainfalls over the past several months, much heavier than usual,” Ren said.
The average global temperature also increased 0.74 C from 1906 to 2005, the IPCC has reported.
But climate analysts are still studying weather trends this year as forecasts continue to face technological obstacles and other challenges, Ren said.
Lin Erda, a senior researcher with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, said at the forum that climate change has had a negative impact on China’s development, such as a reduction in grain output and an increase in the number of people suffering from extreme weather.
“It is necessary to improve climate assessment and prediction technologies, and to take proper measures to face natural disasters beforehand,” Lin said.
The forum is held by the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
By Wang Qian