China’s glaciers may shrink 27 percent by 2050: Report

The average area of glaciers in western China might shrink by 27.2 percent by 2050 because of global warming, damaging crop production and worsening droughts, according to a report released at the UN climate talks in north China’s Tianjin Municipality. The “Climate Changes and Poverty – Case Study in China” report was jointly released by organizations including the Institute of Environment and Social and Sustainable Development in Agriculture with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

Xinhua quoted the report as saying that forecasts of glacier recession patterns, summer temperatures and precipitation showed that the average glacier area in western China might be reduced by 27.2 percent by 2050. Ocean glaciers, affected by wet airflow from the oceans, would shrink by 52.5 percent, and Asian continental glaciers, formed in the continental climate would shrink by 24.4 percent.

The report warned that glacier shrinkage would also threaten China’s agriculture sector and further stated that overall crop production capacity would drop by 5 to 10 percent by 2030 due to global warming, especially in wheat, rice and corn, and the impact would worsen after 2050.

The report further warned that global warming would reduce the seasonal snowfall period while melting area would be higher, contributing to the sharp decline. Ice volumes would reportedly decrease substantially and the runoff water to rivers would fall sharply.

A four degree Celsius rise in temperatures would increase the drought-affected area by 843,000 square kilometres, it added.

Meanwhile, Sun Cuihua, an official with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), has claimed that the Chinese government had attached importance to tackling the problems caused by climate change and taken effective measures to reduce the negative impacts.

By the end of 2009, the government had announced plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions per unit of GDP by 40 to 45 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels. As part of that goal, the government had stepped up closures of outdated production capacity, which had been blamed for pollution and hindering the upgrading of industry.


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