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Week's special: China affected much by climate change

Guest speaker: Song Lianchun, spokesman of China Meteorological Administration (CMA)
Date: Aug. 8, 2007
Host: Strong China Forum
Full text in Chinese: click here

New records of extreme weather and more to follow

China is a country which suffers from frequent meteorological disasters. About 70 percent of the natural disasters are caused by bad weather and claim more than 4,000 lives, affect 400 million people and 50 million ha. of farm crops a year on average.

Extreme weather this year is particularly serious and has taken place very often with new meteorological records. The average temperature over the first months of the year is 1.4 centigrade degree higher than that of the same period of the previous years. As a result, some areas in south China and south of the Yangtze River are hit by record heat.

The imbalanced rainfall has caused regional draught and flood. Prolonged heavy rainfall was blamed for the serious flood along the Huaihe River. Changsha in central China's Hunan province is still struggling with the most serious draught in 50 years. A total of 160,000 residents there face the shortage of drinking water.

Sudden severe convection weather has taken place more often this year with a record high human deaths. Many cities have been hit by strong thunderstorms. Chongqing municipality in southwest China, for example, experienced the heaviest rainfall, reaching 267 millimeter within 24 hours, on July 7 in the 115 years since there was meteorological record.

It is estimated that more extreme weather will happen in China. Currently the coastal Fujian and Guangdong provinces are preparing to combat against possible damages caused by the tropical storm Pabuk and Wutip.

What is to blame?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) established by WMO and UNEP has published its Fourth Assessment Report "Climate Change 2007", pointing out the world would see increasing occurrence of extreme weather due to the global warming.

The urban island heat effect, referring to the increased temperature in some parts of urban areas than its surroundings, is another important catalyst to the mounting scope and possibility of disastrous weather.

Song denied that the Three Gorges Dam should be blamed for the severe draught last year and heavy rainfall this year in Chongqing.

But he recognized that air pollution may affect the movement of the atmosphere. Scientists are making research on how it would affect the atmosphere movement, he noted.

Prevention and alleviation

There are instructions to make pre-warnings to the public against meteorological disasters and take actions to fight against such disasters. However, there is still much room of improvement in the pre-warning system, the coverage of the system, the cooperation between government departments and the public education.

The analysis on the regional exposure to the meteorological disasters is under way, which offers data to reduce the risks of such disasters.

Farmers in mountainous areas are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather. CMA is establishing a new generation disaster warning broadcasting system which uses satellite to reach areas which are out of the reach of conventional communication equipment.

By People's Daily Online

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