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China considered more at risk from warming

By LI HONGYANG | | Updated: 2024-01-20 00:24
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The trend of climate change will continue for the foreseeable future and humanity will face a hotter and often drier tomorrow, experts from the National Climate Center warned at a news conference on Friday.

It is crucial to enhance the ability to make a timely response to extreme natural disasters, they said.

According to the center's forecast for January and February, most parts of China are expected to have temperatures close to average levels during the late winter period.

However, there will be periods of volatile cold air sweeping across the country, particularly in the south, where precipitation is expected to be above normal.

In the coming spring, temperatures across the country are expected to be higher than usual, with nationwide precipitation levels ranging from normal to above normal.

Last year, China experienced its highest average temperature since 1961, reaching 10.7 C, surpassing the typical average annual temperature by 0.8 C, the center said. This broke the previous record for the period set in 2021 at 10.5 C.

Despite the warming trend, extreme weather events — including cold waves and snowstorms — have occurred with greater frequency and intensity.

Last January, Mohe in Heilongjiang province set a record for a lowest temperature of -53 C, breaking the previous record set in February 1969, the center said.

Zhou Bing, chief expert at the center, said at the news conference that people should prepare for compounded climate-related events in China.

"Extreme precipitation events have become more frequent and intense. Heat waves and associated floods occur more frequently," Zhou said.

Parched and arid lands are considerably less capable of absorbing heavy rains when they occur.

The World Meteorological Organization warned early in 2016 about a future with hotter and drier conditions.

"Given China's diverse topography and climate, the country stands as one of the most sensitive nations to global climate change," he said.

High-temperature heat waves, mixed with freezing events, droughts, heavy rainfall, flooding, typhoons, dust storms and strong winds, are expected to occur frequently, with high intensity and wide-reaching impact, he added.

"Extreme weather may deviate from traditional patterns, making climate risks more difficult to predict," Zhou said.

Jia Xiaolong, deputy director of the center, said that the atmosphere over the Arctic region is absorbing more heat, exacerbating warming north of the Arctic Circle. Cold air masses are deviating from their typical polar positions, making high-latitude intense cold air more prone to moving southward. As a result, frigid air masses, snowstorms and cold front conditions are occurring more frequently.

Jia said human activity is the primary cause of the recent increase in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, which in turn is driving global climate change.

"There is a pressing need to prioritize climate security, slow global warming and enhance meteorological disaster prevention and mitigation capabilities," he said.

Jia said people need to recognize their own roles both as contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and as victims of increased extreme weather events amid climate change.

"Residents in northern regions that experience less rain than in the south, for example, need to learn more about heavy rainfall disasters, properly interpret meteorological disaster warnings issued by the government and be aware of the locations of nearby evacuation shelters," he added.

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