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Tibet Experiences Third Warm Winter in Seven Years
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Southwest China
's Tibet Autonomous Region experienced its third warm winter in the last seven years between December 2006 and February 2007, with a temperature rise of nine degrees in some areas.


Tibet reported an average temperature of minus three degrees Celsius between December and February, up 1.4 degrees from the historical average of minus 4.4 degrees Celsius, said Ma Yanxian, spokeswoman and deputy head of the regional meteorological bureau.


"The average temperature in some parts of the Nagqu Prefecture, central Tibet, soared nine degrees Celsius from the historical benchmark of minus 4.4, the highest since 1965," she said.


The temperature in the regional capital of Lhasa also rose by six degrees.


Ma said most parts of Tibet reported temperature rises ranging from 0.6 to 2.9 degrees Celsius during the three-month period.


The China Meteorological Administration's definition of a warm winter is a temperature rise of 0.5 degrees above the historical average.


Meanwhile, most parts of Tibet reported a 50-percent decline in rainfall, which measured less than one millimeter at 17 of the region's 32 meteorological stations between early December and the end of February.


The warm and arid climate were to blame for several forest fires in Qamdo and Nyingchi prefectures and were likely to increase the risks of plant diseases and insect pests in the summer, Ma said.


Tibet experienced its warmest winter in history in 2005-2006, when the average temperature rose 3.1 degrees Celsius from the historical average of minus 4.4.


The second warmest winter was reported in 2000-2001, with a 1.6-degree temperature rise.


Global warming has led to the acceleration of glacial melt in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, dubbed the "Roof of the World."


The plateau, regarded as a barometer for the world's climatic conditions, has seen its glaciers melt at an annual average rate of 131.4 square kilometers over the past three decades.


The shrinking of glaciers, widespread drought and the decrease in grassland are threatening the plateau, geologists said.


The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is the cradle of three main Chinese rivers, the Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang rivers. Most of the Chinese civilization emerged along the valleys of the Yangtze and Yellow rivers.


(Xinhua News Agency April 24, 2007)

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