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China to Intensify Climate Study
China has mapped out a national program for intensifying climate observation, research and prediction to help facilitate sustainable economic and social development over the next 10 years.

With the country facing an ever-increasing global warming trend and its consequent impact on society, the economy and the environment, Qin Dahe, a top official of China Meteorological Administration (CMA), said China must increase its capabilities in the observation, research and prediction of climate changes.

Introducing the 2001-10 climate program, the first ever drafted in China, to more than 200 concerned officials and scientists, Qin said that "the goals have been set in the program and measures have been worked out."

Under the program, major breakthroughs are expected to be made in expanding long-term climate monitoring and data collection; applying the results of climate research to more fields; collecting and utilizing climate observation system materials and sharing such information with agencies concerned; raising the accuracy of climate predications and climate observation systems in the 10 years from 2001.

Qin said he hopes such goals will not only ensure sustainability for China but also support China's work on global environmental protection.

Negotiations with other countries on global climate changes will be continued in the years ahead, particularly in the area of continuously rising emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the rich nations, under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, Qin indicated.

The Kyoto Protocol, not yet ratified by most industrial countries, would commit the wealthy nations to cutting their overall emissions by 5 percent compared to 1990 levels by the year 2012.

Qin believes that in the next 10 years China will face double challenges of not only maintaining the rights of China as a developing nation in international negotiations on world climate issues, but also contributing more to the protection of the world climate and environment.

At the same time, the level of China's work in the control of climate problems can be upgraded through close cooperation with domestic agencies, and industrial sectors and more international exchanges, Qin said.

To realize the program's goal, China will adopt a series of new technologies, such as remote-sensing meteorological satellites, to expand its existing climate monitoring network.

The network is also to monitor major subnormal climate changes, such as this spring's sandstorms, which at one point turned skies over many of areas of north China a frightening orange.

China's research will not only focus on establishing a definitive assessment of the characteristics, the evolution and the history of the country's climate changes over the last 100 years but also on developing dependable computer-based simulations of future climate conditions, Qin disclosed.

Scientists will work out countermeasures and practical strategies for evaluating the last and the next 50 year's climate change impacts on China's economy, environment and resources.

China is located in East Asia's monsoon area, which features drastic climate changes and frequent disasters, meteorologists say.

Over the past 10 years, catastrophic droughts have hit most of north China's areas with the persistent dry spells observed in 1997, 1999 and 2001.

In 1998, devastating floods raged in large areas along the Yangtze River and similar inundations hit the area again in the following year.

Annual direct economic losses caused by such climate calamities have averaged 100 billion yuan (US$12 billion) since 1990, and such damages were doubled in 1998, 1999 and 2000, statistics indicate.

To ensure sustainable development of the economy in the years ahead, China must gird against the impact of climate and climate changes and work to control disasters while at the same time developing a long-term climate monitoring and control program.

(China Daily April 6, 2002)

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