Friday, February 02, 2007

China and the Tibet Plateau: droughts, sandstorms and desertification ahead?

As China continues to grow at speed we have posted numerous times on how the environmental degradation in China may put a break on growth.

Water shortages and the pollution of existing water resources are giving grave cause for concern.

On the eve of the IPCC report the effects of global warming on future water supplies is highlighted by the Chinese state media regarding the effect of increased temperatures on the Tibet plateau.

China Warns of Disasters from the Melting of the Tibet Plateau.

BEIJING - Chinese scientists have warned that rising temperatures on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau will melt glaciers, dry up major Chinese rivers and trigger more droughts, sandstorms and desertification, state media reported on Thursday.


Temperatures on the plateau had risen 0.42 degrees Celsius (about 1 degree Fahrenheit) each decade since the 1980s, the China Daily said, citing the Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, a government think-tank.

"One of the worst results of the rising temperature on the plateau could be an ultimate change in the volume of water flowing into the Yangtze, the Yellow and other rivers that originate in the mountainous region," the paper quoted Xu Xiangde, an academy researcher, as saying.

There could be trouble ahead...
Typhoons, floods and droughts killed 2,704 people and inflicted economic losses of 212 billion yuan (US$27.32 billion) in 2006, the warmest year since 1951, state media reported.

Temperatures on the plateau have also nudged record highs this winter and brought sandstorms two months early, Xinhua news agency said last week.

The report followed a forecast from Beijing's environmental bureau that more severe sandstorms than normal would hit the capital in the spring because of the mild and dry winter.

The warm January could make it easier for worm eggs and bugs to survive the winter, raising the possibility of plant diseases and insect pests in the spring, said Song Lianchun, head of the disaster reduction forecast department at the meteorological administration.

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