Climate Shift Causes Problems In China And Tibet

Record temperatures and severe drought in China

The worst drought in 60 years that has left millions of people in Yunnan province lacking drinking water has also fueled forest fires and threatened local energy supplies.

A local official said late Sunday the drought has inflicted a direct agricultural economic loss of 6.5 billion yuan ($952 million) in Yunnan.

The province has earmarked 389 million yuan ($57 million) for drought relief, said Zhou Yunlong, head of the provincial water resources bureau.

The efforts have helped temporarily ease the shortage of drinking water for 4.25 million people and 2.42 million livestock, as well as irrigate 733 hectares of crops, Zhou added.


The drought, which began in July, has left 4.9 million residents and 3.34 million livestock with a shortage of drinking water.

It also caused six times more forest fires and a 50 percent drop in the generation of hydropower.

Yunnan's rainfall since last July was 29 percent, a record low, or 207 millimeters lower than the average, whereas the temperature was 1.7 degrees higher than average and even went beyond the highest level since records began.

Record temperatures and severe drought in Tibet
The average temperature in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region was 5.9 degrees Celsius last year, 1.5 degrees Celsius higher than normal and a record high in almost four decades, according to latest figures released by the regional climate center.

The average temperature across Tibet spanned from minus 1 to 13.6 degrees Celsius last year, 0.8 to 2.3 degrees higher than normal, [Zhang Hezhen] said. "Average temperatures recorded at 29 observatories reached record high."

Zhang said temperature rises occurred in both summer and winter.

Alongside temperature rises, Zhang and her colleagues have observed a drop of rainfall by at least 20 percent.

"Tibet received an average precipitation of 363 millimeters last year, a record low in 39 years," she said.

The worst drought in decades affected Lhasa and Xigaze, Shannan, Nyingchi and Qamdo prefectures last summer and forced residents to buy bottled water or carry water from miles away.

Thanks are due to Geoffrey Lean of (blog), whose Tibetan news item prompted this article.