Climate change impacts in China

Climate change impacts in China - what the IPCC 4th Assessment Report has found:
  • Northwest China 0.7°C increase in mean annual temperature from 1961 to 2000. Between 22% and 33% increase in rainfall [10.2.2].
  • Increase in frequency of short duration heat waves in recent decade, increasing warmer days and nights in recent decades [10.2.3].
  • Increasing frequency of extreme rains in western and southern parts including Changjiang river, and decrease in northern regions; More floods in Changjiang river in past decade; more frequent floods in Northeast China since 1990s; More intense summer rains in East China; Severe flood in 1999; 7-fold increase in frequency of floods since 1950s [10.2.3].
  • Tibet: Observed increase in animal (livestock) production related to warming in summer and annual temperature (1978-2002) [1.3.6.1].
  • Decrease in the frost period in northern China by 10 days and advances in spring phenology [1.3.6.1].
  • Tibetan Plateau glaciers of less than 4 km in length are projected to disappear with 3°C temperature rise and no change in precipitation. If current warming rates are maintained, glaciers located over Tibetan Plateau are likely to shrink at very rapid rates from 500,000 km2 in 1995 to 100,000 km2 by the 2030s. [10.4.4.3,10.6.2]
  • The entire Himalayan Hindu Kush ice mass has decreased in the last two decades and the ratio of melt accelerates. Water supply in areas fed by HKH glacier melt, on which hundreds of millions of people in China and India depend, will be negatively affected [3.4].
  • Due to large populations and high exposure to sea level rise, storm surge and river flooding megadeltas, such as the Zhujiang are especially affected [T10.9, 10.6].
  • Warmer climate, precipitation decline and droughts in most delta regions of China have resulted in drying up of wetlands and severe degradation of ecosystems [10.2.4.4].
 / ©: Lloyd Raleigh
Nestled at the top of a valley in the heart of the Tibetan Plateau, Bazhu exemplifies the wonder and splendour of an area that is the focus of so much conservation work.
© Lloyd Raleigh

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WWF work

What WWF is doing on the ground in China to protect against climate change:
WWF-China has also drafted a vulnerability assessment proposal for the Yangtze River basin and the Altai-Sayan Ecoregion. At a length of 6,300 kilometers, the Yangtze is the third longest river in the world. Today, the Yangtze is a center for agriculture, industry, and tourism. The construction of dams, fish farming, deforestation, cultivation of surrounding land for farming and grazing, pollution, oil drilling, industrialization, urbanization, and introduced diseases all threaten this ecoregion.

Unfortunately, climate change and its associated effects could amplify all of these impacts past the point of sustainability. WWF proposes to build the resistance and resilience of the Yangtze River Basin Ecoregion by conducting a thorough vulnerability assessment in the region and by working with stakeholders. We will identify the non-climatic stressors that can be minimized or eliminated, potential protected areas and corridors to allow for species movement. We will also promote a comprehensive mitigation strategy including energy efficiency and development of renewable energies and will establish an adaptation strategy demonstration project to test our success.

Tibetian Plateau is part of the Himalayan Glacier Project (WWF-NL/UK), see Nepal.

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