Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Report: Extreme weather will be seen on Yangtze

Tini Tran in the Associated Press: Increased droughts, floods and storms will hit China's Yangtze River Basin over the next few decades, the result of rising temperatures globally, according to a report released Tuesday. Climate change will trigger extreme weather conditions along the country's longest river, but strategies can be taken to control it, said the report, issued by the environmental group WWF-China. The group was originally known as the World Wildlife Fund.

In the past two decades, the temperature in the river basin area has risen steadily, which has led to a spike in flooding, heat waves and droughts, the report said. It is the largest assessment yet on the impact of global warming on the Yangtze basin area, which is home to 400 million people. Data collected from 147 monitoring stations along the 700,000-square-mile (1.8 million-square-kilometer) area showed temperatures rose by 0.59 degree Fahrenheit (0.33 degree Celsius) during the 1990s. Additional findings show that between 2001 and 2005, the basin's temperature rose on average another 1.28 degrees Fahrenheit (0.71 degree Celsius).

"Extreme climate events such as storms and drought disasters will increase as climate change continues to alter our planet," said Xu Ming, the lead researcher on the report, which included expert contributions from the China Academy of Sciences, the China Meteorological Administration and other academic institutions.

The report identifies key areas that will be affected: from agriculture to various ecosystems such as forests, grasslands, wetlands and coastal regions. Crops such as corn, winter wheat and rice will see clear declines in production, with rice crops alone dropping between 9 percent to 41 percent by the end of the century, it said. Natural habitat such as grasslands and wetlands have receded steadily in recent years while rising sea levels triggered by global warming will make coastal cities such as Shanghai more vulnerable….

Sunset on the Yangtze, shot by Ryu, Cheol, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License

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