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Climate change a growing threat in Tibet, media report

November 23, 2007

November 20, 2007

BEIJING (AFP) — Climate change is causing more weather-related disasters
than ever in the Himalayan region of Tibet, where the temperature is
rising faster than the rest of China, state press reported Wednesday.

"Natural disasters, like droughts, landslides, snowstorms and fires are
more frequent and calamitous now," Xinhua news agency quoted the
director of the Tibet Regional Meteorological Bureau, Song Shanyun, as
saying.

"The tolls are more severe and losses are bigger."

The temperature in Tibet has been rising by 0.3 degrees Celsius (0.54
degrees Fahrenheit) every decade, about 10 times faster than the
national average, with visible consequences, a bureau study found.

"Problems like receding snow lines, shrinking glaciers, drying
grasslands and desert expansion are increasingly threatening the natural
eco-system in the region," Song said.

The report is the latest in China to warn of the dramatic impact of
global warming on the region known as the "roof of the world" and
regarded as a barometer of world climate conditions.

The region's glaciers have been melting at an average rate of 131.4
square kilometres (50 square miles) per year over the past 30 years,
according to previously released Chinese government research.

Chinese researchers have said that even if global warming did not
worsen, the region's glaciers would be reduced by nearly a third by 2050
and up to half by 2090, at the current rate.

Song directly attributed two disasters in 2000 to climate change.

In one of them, a thawed snow cap caused a "rare and extremely
large-scale" landslide in Nyingchi prefecture in southeast Tibet.

More than 300 million cubic metres (10.6 billion cubic feet) of debris,
piling up to 100 metres (330 feet) high, blocked a river and impacted
4,000 people in the area, the report said.

The other disaster was in Shigatse in southern Tibet, when a
"once-in-a-century" flood affected more than 60,000 people and inundated
thousands of hectares of cropland.
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