Government braces for stormy
Meteorologists are working on a nationwide plan to combat the
impact of extreme weather conditions that threaten both the economy
and society as a whole.
Zheng Guoguang, director of the China Meteorological
Administration (CMA), said the plan, which runs until 2020, will
focus on disaster warning, information release and emergency
response, technological support, legislation and standard making,
and public education.
"All our efforts are designed to make our weather forecasts more
accurate," he said.
Zheng was speaking in Beijing yesterday at a conference on
weather-related disaster relief and prevention.
Under the draft plan, eight key projects will be developed to
improve the way in which weather disasters are handled.
These include the establishment of new weather radar network,
completion of the Fengyun weather satellite system, the development
of a weather observation and disaster pre-warning project, and the
optimization of the climate change observation network and related
Climate Change to Be Better
The China Meteorological Administration (CMA) yesterday
announced the completion of a national climate observation network
to help mitigate global warming.
CMA director Zheng Guoguang said the network would collect
accurate information about climate change.
"Climate change is threatening the environment, state security
and economic development," Zheng said.
Responding to a UN plan, China's first climate observation
network was set up in 1997. Seven departments - meteorology, water
affairs, agriculture, environmental protection, forestry, ocean and
scientific research - joined the network.
The network set up 16 key observation areas, Zhang Renhe,
director of the Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences
Autumn Harvest Under Severe Threat
The country's top planner yesterday warned that this year's
extreme weather conditions, plant diseases and insect infestations
could seriously affect the autumn harvest.
About 11.5 million hectares of arable land have been hit by
drought this year, 2.14 million more than the average for the past
few years, Ma Kai, minister of the National Development and Reform
Figures from the Ministry of Water Resources also show that
floods have submerged about 9.7 million hectares, pushing the total
amount of disaster-hit land to more than one-sixth of the country's
120 million hectares of arable land.
The situation could be even worse in the autumn if the
widespread flooding and droughts persist, Minister of Water
Resources Chen Lei told a press conference on Tuesday.
Torrential Rains Cause Reservoirs to
Continuous torrential rains have caused more than half of the
large- and medium-sized reservoirs to overflow in east China's Shandong Province, local authorities said on
The province saw an average rainfall of 532 mm during this
year's flood season, or 17 percent higher than normal, according to
the Shandong provincial hydrology and water resources bureau.
As of 6:00 AM on Sunday, the province's 39 large- and
medium-sized reservoirs had stored close to 4.2 billion cubic
meters of water, or about 1.4 billion cubic meters more than that
for the same period in previous years, and 24 of the reservoirs
have overflowed, a bureau spokesman said, providing no details
about whether residents would be affected or not.
Heavy rains have also made the rivers swollen in Shandong and
damaged levees and bridges, the spokesman said.
China has suffered from abnormal and extreme weather which led
to fatal floods, landslides and lingering drought in a number of
provinces this year. The disasters left 1,279 people dead and 239
others missing in the first seven months, the Ministry of Civil
Affairs has said.
Freaky Weather Not Caused by Human Activity:
Abnormal weather fronts that have battered China of late
mostly stem from national particular geographic climate conditions,
according to Gu Wanlong, director assistant of the China
Meteorological Administration Climate Center.
Some experts have sought to point the finger at global warming
for the recent extreme weather conditions, claiming that the
unbalanced distribution of rainstorms, sky-high temperatures,
prolonged periods of drought and powerful typhoons are proof of the
realities of climate change.
However, according to Gu, China's rainy seasons are dictated by
the movements of monsoons and these can cause either massive
flooding or crippling drought.
"The strength of the summer monsoon determines the location of
main rainbelt," said Gu. "This year, the summer monsoon hit China
later than in previous years, leading the rain to slowly drift
northwards along the Yangtze River and Huaihe River. Therefore,
most of the rainstorms were centered on the Huaihe River instead of
the middle and lower reaches of Yangtze River."
Similarly, Sichuan's rainstorms and drought can also be blamed
on sub-tropical weather front movements, leisurely shifting north
from the southern oceans. "Therefore, once warm and moist air
encounters cold air, precipitations will occur," explained Gu.
Glaciers Melting at Alarming
The Tibetan and Xinjiang glaciers -- the major source of
Asia's biggest rivers -- have melted by up to an alarming 17
percent at certain spots in the past four decades.
In interviews with China Daily, Chinese scientists have
revealed that the world's highest glaciers are melting at a much
faster rate than previously believed.
The meltdown, caused by global warming, is seriously threatening
the survival of major rivers, including the Yangtze, the Mekong,
the Yellow River, the Indus and the Ganges, which originate from
The findings were made in an ongoing study of the Chinese
Academy of Sciences (CAS), which began in early 2000s and covered
more than 20,000 sq km, or about 40 percent of the glaciers in the
About 4.2 percent of the glaciers have disappeared since the
previous survey was carried out between 1956 and 1980, said Liu
Shiyin, a researcher at the CAS' renowned Cold and Arid Regions
Environment and Engineering Research Institute in Lanzhou, capital
of Gansu Province.
Algae Bloom Threatens Water for
A blue-green algae bloom is threatening the water quality of a
lake that provides drinking water for over 5 million people in
the city of Wuxi, Jiangsu Province.
Local residents flocked to buy bottled water and bread after a
blue-green algae bloom appeared on Tuesday in Taihu Lake, making
the water smell unpleasant.
The price of an 18-liter bottle of water sold by street peddlers
had risen from eight yuan to 50 yuan on Wednesday night.
Initial investigations show the water level of Taihu Lake is at
its lowest in 50 years this summer due to continuous high
temperatures and lack of rain, which caused an excess of nutrients
in the water.
The city government is planning to artificially induce rain on
Thursday or Friday to dilute lake water, and the provincial
government has agreed to divert more water from the Yangtze River
to the lake.
Local authorities are closely monitoring the supplies of the
bottled water in 10 supermarkets and have allocated more bottled
water from neighboring regions.
The affected population is mostly in the city districts, but the
local government is still counting the exact number who have been
affected by the blue-green algae bloom.
Local authorities are closely monitoring the water quality
around the clock and Yang Weize, secretary of the Wuxi Municipal
Committee of the Communist Party of China, vowed on Wednesday to
guarantee safe drinking water "at all costs."
(China.org.cn September 26, 2007)