Extreme weather hit China hard

08:25, January 13, 2011      

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Liu Xingde, 72-year-old farmer at Baita village in Shandong province's Jining city, holds withered wheat seedlings on Monday. He estimated that the yield from his field, which has been ravaged by severe drought, will be almost nothing. (Photo/for China Daily)

Extreme weather last year, including high temperatures, drought and heavy rains, caused the worst damage in China in a decade, a senior meteorological official said on Wednesday.

Song Lianchun, chief of the National Climate Center, said extreme weather last year caused the deaths of more than 4,800 people and resulted in direct economic losses of more than 500 billion yuan ($75 billion).

He said 2010 was a freakish meteorological year for China, with severe weather hitting the country with a frequency and intensity rarely seen.

According to a report delivered to a work conference in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, China received 11 percent more precipitation than normal, with the number of days with rainstorms climbing 21.5 percent above normal. Temperatures throughout the year were 0.7 percent above average.

South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, Southwest China's Sichuan, Guizhou and Yunnan provinces and Chongqing municipality suffered the worst drought in 100 years.

In winter and spring, the most sustained low temperature in 40 years hit the country's northern and northeastern regions.

From May to September, torrential rain successively hit the country's southern, northern and western regions.

Official figures show that flood-related incidents led to 3,900 people being killed or left missing in 2010 in China, including 1,434 deaths in devastating mudslides in Zhouqu, Gansu province, on Aug 7.

Areas of crops affected by torrential rain accounted for 41 percent of the total areas affected by meteorological disasters in 2010. Another 38 percent of affected areas suffered from drought, it said.

Extreme weather also caused the most serious consequences to transportation in 10 years.

"Global warming was largely to blame for the country's frequent extreme weather," Song said.

Zheng Guoguang, chief of the China Meteorological Administration, said at the conference that increasing extreme weather has made improving weather forecasting a priority.

"Meteorological monitoring in areas prone to flood and geological disasters need to be strengthened," he said.

To minimize the damage brought by change in the weather, the administration pledged to increase the accuracy of its forecasts over the next five years.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

By Jin Zhu, China Daily
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