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Copenhagen Summit: Spotlight on China

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Copenhagen Summit: Spotlight on China

(c) Ullrich

Certain countries are worse affected than others by climate change. How about China? Interview with Laurent Li, researcher from the Laboratory of Dynamic Meteorology (LMDNouvelle fenêtre) and specialist of this country which is 15 times bigger and 22 times more densely populated that France.


Is climate change already being felt in China?

The change in overall climate is clearly perceptible in China. The surface temperature there has risen by 1.1°C in 100 years. Over the last 50 years, precipitation in the west and south of China has risen, but it has fallen in the north and north-east. The frequency and intensity of heat-waves, droughts and torrential rains have risen, which can also be attributed to climate change.

What do climatic models predict?


It is fairly difficult to predict the future evolution of the climate in China, as it varies greatly in relation to the South-East Asia monsoons. This variability is evident in the results of models used in the last IPCC report. For the end of the 21st century, the overall rise in temperature for China is estimated at between 1.6 to 5.0°C. Average precipitation is expected to rise by 155mm/year.

And your regional model?


If I take the regionalized results from studies at the LMD, we can expect a greater rise in temperature within the country than in the coastal regions, and more obviously in winter than in summer. In terms of precipitation, our model predicts a rise in the north and a decrease in the south. However, there are many local variations.

 Will these changes affect the population?


Climate change has a principally negative impact on Chinese agriculture and farming by making production levels uncertain. Production of wheat, rice and corn, three important subsistence crops, will probably fall. The amount of crops affected by insects and disease could rise, as could the area of pasture touched by desertification. If adequate measures are not taken, agricultural production will fall by 5 to 10% in 2030. That is a considerable drop in a country where the agricultural population is still large.



14/12/09