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Tibet has second-highest temperature in 37 years in 2007

February 29, 2008

LHASA, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- The average temperature in southwest
China's Tibet Autonomous Region last year was the second-highest in 37
years and meteorologists said that this underscored the impact of
global warming.

The average temperature last year, which was calculated at 4.7 degrees
Celsius (about 11.6 degrees Fahrenheit), was only second to the record
of 4.9 degrees Celsius in 2006, according to statistics released by
the Tibet Regional Meteorological Bureau on Thursday.

The 2007 figure was 1.2 degrees higher than the previous yearly
average, it said.

Statisticians with the bureau said that temperatures set record highs
in several areas and in several months. In October, record highs were
recorded at more than two-thirds of the monitoring stations in the
region.

Zhang Hezhen, a senior engineer with the bureau, said that since 2000,
warm winters had been more frequent. Five of the warmest winters in
the past 35 years in Tibet occurred after 2000.

The Tibet region, home to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, has been regarded
as a barometer for the world's climate. Experts said that the
temperature rise in Tibet was a microcosm of the global warming trend.

A study by the bureau showed that the temperature in Tibet had risen
by 0.3 degrees Celsius every 10 years, or about 10 times as fast as
the national average, which is 0.4 degrees per century.

Sun Honglie, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said
that melting glaciers and frozen ground could mean more plants during
warmer weather, but that in the long term, accumulated snow-water
would mean the risk of floods and in undated grassland.

Some researchers have already expressed concern over the impact of
global warming.

"The warming climate has caused more meteorological disasters than
ever in Tibet. Problems like receding snow lines, shrinking glaciers,
drying grasslands and desert expansion are increasingly threatening
the natural eco-system in the region," said Song Shanyun, director of
the Tibetan meteorological bureau, in an interview last November.

"Natural disasters, like droughts, landslides, snowstorms and fires
are more frequent and calamitous now. The tolls are more severe and
losses are bigger," he said.

Song cited two major disasters in 2000 alone, which caused total
losses of 1.4 billion yuan (about 195 million U.S. dollars).

In April 2000, a thawed snow cap triggered what experts described as a
"rare and extremely large-scale" landslide in Nyingchi prefecture in
southeast Tibet. More than 300 million cubic meters of debris, piling
up to 100 meters high, blocked a river and trapped more than 4,000
people.

The other disaster was in Xigaze, a city in southern Tibet, in August,
when a flood of the size that usually occurs only once in a century
affected more than 60,000 people and inundated thousands of hectares
of cropland.

The Dalai Lama later fled to India in 1959 after a failed uprising and
established a government-in-exile in Dharamsala. He and his followers
have been at odds with the government in Beijing ever since.
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