Global warming has resulted in China's second warmest winter in 50 years, causing sandstorms, heavy fog, and severe drought.
The China Meteorological Administration (CMA) said yesterday the winter season from December 2006 to February 2007 recorded a national average temperature of -2.4 C, following the warmest winter in the country between 1998 and 1999, with an average temperature of -2.3 C.
Song Lianchun, spokesman for CMA, told a press conference that the national average temperature and the regional average temperature in 19 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities last month were the highest compared to the corresponding periods each year since 1951.
Farmers are concerned that high winter temperatures will have an adverse affect on agricultural production because pests are able to survive and breed rampantly. In addition, the sustained temperature increase has resulted in a series of abnormal weather phenomena.
In some areas of north and south China intense fog lingered for up to 10 days, causing chaos to transportation and worsening air pollution.
By the end of last month, a large part of north, northwest, and southwest China had been stricken by severe drought.
Six million people in Chongqing could be facing water shortages by the beginning of May due to drought along the Yangtze River, Xinhua reported on Wednesday. Song warned that Sichuan Province and Chongqing, which suffered from drought and scorching-high temperatures last year, could possibly be hit by more drought again this year.
The northern part of the country has already experienced four sandstorms since the start of the year, and another cold front forecasted for the weekend could possibly cause more sandstorms in Xinjiang, Gansu and Inner Mongolia.
On Wednesday, wind gusts from a sandstorm derailed a train in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, leaving three dead and more than 30 people injured.
The good news, however, is that the CMA expects fewer sandstorms this year, predicting 11 to 15 sandstorms in the north in spring, compared to 18 in 2006.
Snow and rain can be expected in the middle and eastern areas of the country in the next few days with the drop in temperatures.
(China Daily March 2, 2007)