Extreme patterns speak of climate change

08:18, December 31, 2010      

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The past 12 months saw the most instances of extreme weather in a decade, China's meteorological authority said on Thursday.

New York streets are covered by knee-deep snow.

The number of extreme weather events in China has been increasing since 2000. These include extremely high and low temperatures, rainstorms and typhoons.

The country witnessed the most number of such events and suffered the most serious consequences in 2010, China Meteorological Administration (CMA) said at a news conference on Thursday.

This summer, the average highest temperature across China was the highest since 1961, with an average 9.7 days with the highest temperature at or above 35 C, 3.5 days more than in previous years.

Extreme rainstorms followed the hot weather. Ninety-seven weather stations around China reported record-breaking daily rainfall, and 133 stations broke their annual records. Only seven record-breaking daily rainfall figures were reported from 2000 to 2009.

Moreover, more than half of the tropical hurricanes formed typhoons and hit coastal regions in East and South China, marking the highest landfall ratio in history.

"In the past 12 months, we experienced extreme weather more often than in any other year in the past decade. And global warming was largely to blame," said Chen Zhenlin, director of the emergency response, disaster mitigation and public services department under the CMA.

"The common point of these extreme weather events was their close connection to rain, which results from climate change".

Extreme weather events have been occurring more often worldwide since the 1950s, and have increased rapidly in the past four decades.

In 2010 exceptional droughts took place in a wide area from North Africa, across the Indian subcontinent to Southwest China and even Australia.

This year South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, Southwest China's Sichuan, Guizhou and Yunnan provinces and Chongqing municipality suffered the most severe drought in 100 years. And in North China's Shanxi province and East China's Anhui province, a new round of drought started in September and has not abated.

The CMA has forecast that widespread snowfalls will occur from Jan 1 to 3, which would be good for the drought. However, Chen said he did not think "the snowfalls can alleviate the drought totally".

From Jan 1 to 3, a cold wave will sweep across most regions in Northwest China and will move down to the southeast, bringing snowfalls to areas including the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, the whole of North China as well as some areas in Southwest China and East China.

In some regions in north Xinjiang, the temperature is likely to drop by 6 to 10 degrees. And from Jan 1 to 10 it will remain 1 to 2 degrees lower in East China and 3 to 5 degrees lower in the northwest than in the same period in 2010.

"Although the winter temperature is turning cold, it is part of the alternating cycle of global heating and cooling, and the climate is indeed turning warm," said Zhou Bing, a CMA researcher.

Source: China Daily
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