The rising temperatures on the Roof of the World will have a rippling effect on climate and environmental changes, Chinese researchers said yesterday.
The data collected from the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau by scientists show that its temperature has risen by up to 0.42 C each decade since 1980s.
"The rising temperature has made us look for answers to a series of questions: how will the change affect the climate in the vicinity, the rest of China, Asia and even the world?", Xu Xiangde, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, said.
While Xu was speaking to China Daily, about 500 scientists and officials were huddled together in Paris to iron out a report on how fast the world was warming, how serious global warming was and how much were humans to blame for that.
The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change report is expected tomorrow, says AP.
Xu said decades of research on the plateau had found that a change or move in water vapor or clouds above the plateau would create an impact, immediate or remote, on weather conditions in other parts of China, and even the world.
For instance, based on analyses of satellite data, Xu and his colleagues have traced the cloud clusters that caused the floods in the summer of 1998 the worst in decades in China back to the strong movement of clouds above the plateau in July that year.
Researchers have partly attributed the scorching weather to the temperature on the plateau, which was 2 to 4 C higher in 2005-06 winter, according to a report of the National Meteorological Center.
Snow cover on the plateau dropped up to 10 percent compared with other years, it said.
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, Xu said.
But meteorological data from the Qinghai-Tibet region were not sufficient, he said.
China and Japan are cooperating on a four-year meteorological research project to build new generation observation stations on and around the plateau to get a forewarning on possible climatic disasters.
Aside from Japan, China has also worked with the United States, the Republic of Korea and other countries to better understand climatic changes on the plateau, said Li Yueqing, director of the Chengdu Institute of Plateau Meteorology under the China Meteorological Administration.
Already, researchers at the China Aero Geophysical Survey and Remote Sensing Center for Land and Resources have found that the plateau's glaciers have been melting at an average of 131.4 square kilometers a year over the past three decades.
And they have estimated that rising temperatures would be largely responsible for the reduction of the glaciers by a third by 2050.
Plus, the rising snow line and shrinking glaciers are likely to influence temperature changes in the plateau region, Xu said.
Fang Hongbin, an official of the center, said melting glaciers would increase the flow of water in rivers and lakes in a short term, but in the long run, downstream rivers would gradually dry up, and there would be more droughts, desertification and sandstorms.
(China Daily February 1, 2007)