Drought in southwestern China caused by climate change: experts

08:53, March 29, 2010      

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Meteorologists have attributed the once-in-a-century drought parching southwest China to climate change.

The drought has left more than 18 million residents and 11.7 million head of livestock suffering drinking-water shortages over a region encompassing the southwestern provinces of Yunnan, Guizhou, Sichuan, the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and the municipality of Chongqing, data from the Ministry of Civil Affairs showed.

"The direct reason for the drought is light rain and high temperatures," Ren Fuming, a leading expert at China's National Climate Center, told the latest edition of Outlook Weekly, a well-known magazine in China.

Ren's opinion was echoed by Zhang Peiqun, also a meteorologist with the center.

Zhang said the rainfall in worst-hit Yunnan since September last year is the lowest in about 50 years while the average temperature since the beginning of winter is the highest.

"The decreased rainfall during the rainy season led to less water in store and high temperatures resulted in greater evaporation, directly causing the severe drought," Zhang said.

Zhang said the reasons underlying it were the complicated ocean currents and anomalous atmospheric circulation.

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