Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tibetan Plateau hopes are melting away

After a recent trip to China and crossing some very large rivers on route it is hard to imagine the potential problems that melting glaciers are storing up.

The Tibetan Plateau problems include flooding,water shortages and desertification. More economics research is needed in this area.

This post from the imaginatively named "Self Destructive B******s" is a good place to start along with the wiki link.

This article is one reason why it is countries such as China that will be hardest hit from the effects of climate change so do not underestimate China's will to get this signed.

The Tibetan Plateau [Self Destructive B******s]

The Tibetan Plateau is a large elevated plateau in Asia, most of which is located in China. It has an average elevation of 4.5 kilometres and has a total area of 2.5 million square kilometres (four times the size of Texas), giving rise to the nickname "The roof of the world". It is the third largest frozen store of freshwater in the world, and is the source for 10 major rivers in Asia. Almost half (47 percent) of the world's population depends on rivers that originate here. Unfortunately, according to a 2007 IPCC report, the ice in these glaciers is melting faster than anywhere else in the world.

Here is the China relevant wording:

China has the world's largest population, with roughly 1.3 billion people, and has often had difficulty trying to feed its people. Over a quarter of China's land is desert, and the country is suffering from increasing desertification. Currently, about 2500 square kilometres are being converted to desert every year, and the rate has been rapidly increasing over the past decades. This has also led to an increase in dust storms, which prevent travel by blocking roads and railways, and cause significant casualties. Around 50 years ago, these occurred only every eight years or so, but now happen annually.

In addition to desertification, which obviously limits where crops can be grown, many existing rivers in China have become unusable because of pollution, and other rivers have begun to run dry. China has a great need for freshwater, and these problems, along with a growing population, are just making this need more acute. In order to meet their demand, China has been building dams and redirecting water from the Tibetan Plateau, and has plans to increase this activity.

Clearly it is too late to stop the melting - how to manage the fallout is what needs to be worked on.


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