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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Tibet temperature 'highest since records began' say Chinese climatologists

February 8, 2010

Average Tibet temperatures in 2009 increased
1.5C, with rises noted in both winter and summer at 29 monitoring sites
Jonathan Watts, Asia environment correspondent, and agencies
Guardian (UK)
February 5, 2010

Temperatures in Tibet soared last year to the
highest level since records began. Photograph: Dan Chung

The roof of the world is heating up, according to
a report today that said temperatures in Tibet
soared last year to the highest level since records began.

Adding to the fierce international debate about
the impact of climate change on the Himalayas,
the state-run China Daily noted that the average
temperature in Tibet in 2009 was 5.9C, 1.5 degrees higher than "normal".

It did not define "normal", but Chinese
climatologists have previously drawn comparisons
with an average over several decades.

"Average temperatures recorded at 29
observatories reached record highs," Zhang
Hezhen, a Lhasa resident and specialist at the
regional weather bureau told the newspaper. "It's
high time for all of us to take global warming
seriously and think about what we can do to save the earth."

The average rose in both summer and winter, which
is unusual as most of mountain warming has
previously been observed in the winter.

A monitoring station at the foot of Mt Everest
also recorded a new record high temperature of
25.8 degrees, which was 0.7C warmer than the previous peak.

Amid the worst drought in decades, Lhasa
experienced its first temperature above 30C since
records began in 1961, the report said. Rainfall
in Tibet fell to its lowest level in 39 years,
affecting nearly 30,000 hectares of cropland - an
eighth of Tibet's arable land.

Xiao Ziniu, director general of the National
Climate Centre told The Guardian last year that
the Tibetan Plateau was particularly sensitive to
climate change due to the impact on fragile
grasslands, permafrost and glaciers.

Tibet's annual climate report was released at a
time of growing international controversy about
signs of global warming in the mountain region,
where the average altitude is over 4,000m.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was
forced to retract a forecast that glaciers in the
Himalayas could disappear by 2035. A study by
Indian scientists last year found that the rate
of glacial retreat was considerably slower than
previously estimated. Chinese experts are
debating the subject and have proposed
cross-border studies, but most published research
in the country suggests glaciers are shrinking,
raising the risk of flash floods in the
short-term and drought in the more distant future.
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