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Bracing for bad weather

Updated: 2013-10-22 01:17
By WANG QIAN ( China Daily)

18 top experts writing report on risk management

China will release a special report on the country's extreme-weather risk management and adaptation next year, a move aimed at enhancing the country's resilience in a warming climate, according to leading scientist Qin Dahe.

"The report will provide technical guidance and suggestions to the local authorities on their disaster prevention and mitigation work," Qin, from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told China Daily in an interview.

Bracing for bad weather

Qin Dahe, a leading scientist, is one of the main authors of a report that China is preparing on how the country can cope with weather-related disasters.[Wang Jing / China Daily]

Qin is one of the main authors of the report, focusing on the dynamics of glaciers and ice sheets, which are an important component of the climate system.

On Monday, he was announced as the first Chinese winner of the Volvo Environment Prize, one of the most prestigious awards in the scientific world, for his more than 30 years of work on the environment and sustainable development.

According to Qin, the report will be divided into six chapters covering the latest advances in the science and technology of weather disaster prevention and mitigation, the impact on industries and regions, and vulnerabilities, characteristics and causes of climate extremes and disasters.

Assessments will be given of the effect on water, food, biology and health, and policy measures and practices for risk management and adaptation will be elaborated on in the report.

The final chapter will outline strategic options for risk management, adaptation and sustainable development, predicting future trends of extreme weather events in China and how to deal with the situation.

The report will be published in English and Chinese, Qin said, adding that the publication will demonstrate the country's disaster prevention and mitigation capacity to the world.

Eighteen top scientists and experts in China are jointly writing the report.

According to the latest statistics from the China Meteorological Administration, about 1,390 people were killed or are missing as a result of weather disasters in 2012, with direct economic losses totaling nearly 336 billion yuan ($55 billion).

"The effects of weather hazards are growing due to China's rapid economic development and urbanization," Qin said, adding that climate change is increasing the frequency of extreme weather events, including long-lasting heat waves and heavy rainfall.

Most residents of southern China have experienced scorching weather this summer, with hundreds of weather monitoring stations recording historic high temperatures. Several deaths have been reported as a result of the extreme heat.

A report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in late September said the Earth was set for more heat waves, floods, droughts and rising sea levels from melting ice sheets that could swamp coasts and low-lying islands as the global temperature continues to rise.

Qin, also co-chair of the IPCC working group, said the IPCC report showed temperatures from 2016 to 2035 are likely to be 0.3 to 0.7 C warmer than in 1986 to 2005. He added that the low end of the range would only be achieved if governments make sharp cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

"China is more likely to see hotter summers and warmer winters in the coming decades," Qin predicted.

"The country urgently needs an extreme weather risk management and adaptation report like this to help it face more frequent weather hazards."

According to the IPCC report, world sea levels could rise by between 26 and 82 centimeters by the end of this century, threatening coastal cities from Shanghai to San Francisco.

"China has already made its promises to cut greenhouse gas emissions," Qin said.

China has announced its intention to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40 to 45 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

However, despite reductions, the effects from greenhouse gas emissions could linger for centuries, according to the IPCC report.

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