Report warns of drastic glacier shrinkage in China

08:26, October 09, 2010      

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The average area of glaciers in western China might shrink by about 30 percent by 2050 because of global warming, damaging crop production and worsening droughts.

The dire prediction came Friday in a report released at the UN climate talks in north China's Tianjin Municipality.

The "Climate Changes and Poverty -- Case Study in China" report was jointly released by organizations including the Institute of Environment and Social and Sustainable Development in Agriculture with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

Forecasts of glacier recession patterns, summer temperatures and precipitation showed the average glacier area in western China might be reduced by 27.2 percent by 2050, said the report.

Ocean glaciers, affected by wet airflow from the oceans, would shrink by 52.5 percent, and Asian continental glaciers, formed in the continental climate would shrink by 24.4 percent.

Glaciers are part of the landscape in west China's high mountainous regions in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, the Pamir Plateau and the Himalayas.

The report warned that global warming would reduce the seasonal snowfall period while melting area would be higher, contributing to the sharp decline.

Ice volumes would decrease substantially and the runoff water to rivers would fall sharply.

Moreover, climate change would not relieve water shortages in northwest China, but reduce river runoff by 20 to 40 percent in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Gansu and Qinghai provinces and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

According to the report, extreme drought affects 697,000 square kilometers of China and drought affects 2.98 million square kilometers, adding up to 38.3 percent of the country's land area. A 4-degree Celsius rise in temperatures would increase the drought-affected area by 843,000 square kilometers.

Glacier shrinkage would also threaten China's agriculture sector.

The report warned that overall crop production capacity would drop by 5 percent to 10 percent by 2030 due to global warming, especially in wheat, rice and corn, and the impact would worsen after 2050.

The Chinese government had attached importance to tackling the problems caused by climate change and taken effective measures to reduce the negative impacts, said Sun Cuihua, an official with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), Friday at the climate talks.

At the end of last year, the government announced plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions per unit of GDP by 40 to 45 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels.

As part of that goal, the government had stepped up closures of outdated production capacity, which had been blamed for pollution and hindering the upgrading of industry.

After three rounds of talks this year, which are moving slowly towards a negotiating text for the Cancun meeting in Mexico at the end of the year, more than 3,000 delegates from 194 nations gathered in Tianjin from Oct. 4 to 9 to accelerate the search for common ground.

However, the gap remains wide between the developed and developing nations as the former remain wary of green technology transfers and additional financing to poorer nations.

Source: Xinhua


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