Drought in southwestern China caused by climate change: Chinese experts
Chinese meteorologists say the ongoing severe drought in southwest China is caused by climate change.
The drought has left more between 18 and 62 million people and 11.7 million to more that 20 million livestock with insufficient drinking water “over a region encompassing the southwestern provinces of Yunnan, Guizhou, Sichuan, the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and the municipality of Chongqing, data from the Ministry of Civil Affairs showed.”
[Note: the figures vary widely depending on each day's published definition of "affected by drought" and "short of drinking water." See also data entries in 2010: Year One of Human-Enhanced Disasters.]
A parched reservoir in Green Pool Dame at Shilin County, Kunming City, Yunnan Province (February 2, 2010). Photo:AFP/Getty Images. Image may be subject to copyright. Click image to enlarge.
“The direct reason for the drought is light rain and high temperatures,” Ren Fuming, a leading expert at China’s National Climate Center, told Outlook Weekly, a popular magazine in China, Xinhua said.
Zhang Peiqun, another senior meteorologist with the center, who agrees with Ren Fumings, aid the rainfall in worst-affected Yunnan province is the lowest in living memory while the average temperature since the beginning of winter has been the highest on record.
“The decreased rainfall during the rainy season led to less water in store and high temperatures resulted in greater evaporation, directly causing the severe drought,” Zhang said.
Zhang believes complicated ocean currents and anomalous atmospheric circulation are responsible for the drought. [See: Kelvin waves in Your Worst Fears About El Niño.]
“Zhang said the lingering cold air mass that formed last September in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau had fenced off the warm and moist currents from the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal, and at the same time the cold air from the north has had difficulty reaching the Yunnan-Guizhou plateau hinterland.” Xinhua reported.
“The cold and warm currents can’t converge to produce rain, so there is little rain,” Zhang said.
Sun Honglie, director of the national expert committee on climate change, said he believed the drought was was caused by anomalous atmospheric currents.
“It is not an environmental or ecological problem,” he said. “But the drought is bound to have an impact on the ecological system.”
“Another expert, Chen Yiyu, an academic at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, also said the year has seen anomalous climate conditions globally and that the drought in China is part of the phenomenon.” Xinhua said.
[Note: They are probably refering to the impact of El Niño.]
Water Severely Rationed
In Fuyuan County there has been no tap water since late 2009, residents said, complaining that “rationed water supply has not been steady, and that they have had to fetch water themselves from a village three miles away.” Epoch Times said.
“Each family is given four water tickets every two weeks and each ticket entitles the bearer to 100 kg (about 26 gallons) of water, which is not enough for daily use at all, especially for a large family of six or seven. So we have to fetch water from somewhere else. I haven’t taken a shower for a few months.” a resident was reported as saying.
Statistics released recently indicated that as of March 17, 2010, some “43,486,000 hectares (about 17.6 million acres) of crops were affected by the drought, among which 940,000 hectares (about 380,566 acres) yielded zero production, causing a direct economic loss of 19 billion yuan (US$2.8 billion).”