No evidence connects Three Gorges to droughts

13:44, May 27, 2011      

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The middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River are suffering from the worst drought in 50 years, causing water shortages in provinces such as Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi and Anhui. What is the chief culprit behind the current drought? The public has targeted the Three Gorges reservoir, also known as the "water of quenching thirst," located in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River. Reporters interviewed several departments and experts regarding this statement.

No evidence supports theory that Three Gorges caused droughts

The theory that the Three Gorges caused the drought originated on the Internet. They believe the Three Gorges Project is the chief culprit causing the rare droughts in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River. "The lake between the gorges intercepts the water that should flow to the lower reaches. That is why the climate is affected," a netizen from Beijing said.

This is not the first time that the public has questioned the Three Gorges Project because of the extreme climate. Abnormal weather has frequently hit China in recent years, such as the drought in southwestern China, the extreme heat in Chongqing as well as heavy rain in Dianshan Lake and the Yangcheng Lake Basin. In all these cases, the Three Gorges is often regarded as the main culprit.

In regards to the theory that the Three Gorges caused droughts, some well-known experts and scholars in fields such as meteorology, geology and water conservancy said that currently there is no evidence to support this statement.

Weather experts call drought cyclical weather phenomenon

Liu Min, director of the Wuhan Regional Climate Center under the Hubei Meteorological Administration, which is responsible for the long-term monitoring of the impact on climate conditions from the Three Gorges Project, said that based on the current means and observational data, there is no evidence that supports theory that the Three Gorges Project is the main cause for the drought in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River.

"The current drought is a cyclical weather phenomenon. It is mainly caused by atmospheric circulation. The monitoring data shows that the influence of the Three Gorges on the regional temperature and humidity is very weak both before and after its construction," Liu said.

According to sources, the "Yangtze River Three Gorges Project Environmental Impact Report" has provided a scientific analysis of the climate issue after the construction of the Three Gorges reservoir, and the basic conclusion is that the scope of the affected area of the Three Gorges reservoir on the temperature, humidity, wind and fog of neighboring regions is generally no more than 10 kilometers.

"Due to the La Nina phenomenon, the atmospheric circulation has been in an abnormal state since last year, and the subtropical high pressure system over the western Pacific has been weaker than average. It prevented warm, humid air currents from reaching the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River," Liu explained. La Nina has caused cold air to move southwards and kept warm, moist air out of southern China, leading to low rainfall in most areas along the middle and lower sections of the Yangtze River since last November.

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(Editor:张心意)

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