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Inclement Weather on Horizon
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China is at more risk of being hit by typhoons, floods and drought this year than at any time in the last decade because of climate change, a top meteorological official said yesterday.

"The situation is urgent. Temperatures in most areas will be higher this year than in previous years, and typhoons are expected to arrive in larger numbers than last year," said Zheng Guoguang, director of the China Meteorological Administration (CMA), at yesterday's working conference on weather forecasting.

Heavy rainfalls could hit the south, centering on the middle reaches of the Yangtze River, as well as the north, affecting most the central part of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, he said.

Global climate change is the major cause of the increasing probability of such disasters, he added.

Zheng's words echoed those of E Jingping, vice-minister of water resources, who said last month that the Yangtze River was at risk of major flooding, and that the Yellow River, which flows through the central part of Inner Mongolia, could also burst its banks this year even though its water level had declined several times during the last several decades.

Bad weather this year has already caused damage, said Xu Xiaofeng, deputy director of the CMA. An unexpected cold snap last month caused serious losses in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, north China's Shanxi Province and central China's Hunan and Hebei provinces.

Meteorologists are doing what they can to prepare for inclement weather.

"We are expected to issue warnings about potentially disastrous weather," said Xu.

Experts at the CMA have travelled around the country making sure satellites, radars, lightening positioning systems and other facilities are in the right places, he added.

In addition, one volunteer at each village in east China's Jiangxi Province has been charged with monitoring signs of natural disasters and is to report his or her findings to local meteorological authorities. The province lies along the middle reaches of the Yangtze River.

And starting on June 1, the FY-2 meteorological satellite will start sending back photos indicating weather changes every 15 minutes. At present it transmits photos every 30 minutes, Xu said.

Meanwhile, the water level in the Three Gorges reservoir has been lowered to 147.51 meters.

"We are confident of being able to meet the challenge of a big flood," said Cao Guangjing, vice-general manager of the China Three Gorges Project Corporation on Monday.

"The Three Gorges reservoir can play a role in fighting against floods," he said.

(China Daily May 10, 2007)

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