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Climate Change»Drought crippling southwest China

»Friday, March 26,2010

Over 50 million people are affected by a severe drought in southwest China, according to Xinhua, the nation's state media. The lack of rain and unseasonably high temperatures has also left 16 million people without easy access to drinking water.

Since last autumn many regions have received only half their usual rainfall. The nation expects that nearly a million hectares will not produce crops due to the drought, while some rivers have dried up completely.

China has sent more than 50 million US dollars to the impacted regions and 4,000 troops to aid drought-victims, especially with water supplies. China has also initiated hundreds of cloud-seeding operations in an effort to force rain in the regions, reports the AFP.

Last June, He Lifu, of China's National Meteorological Center told the China Daily that he expected increases in extreme weather across China.

"Extreme weather will be more frequent in the future due to the instability of the atmosphere, and global warming might be the indirect cause," Lifu said, adding that extreme weather events, such as droughts, had increased in severity and frequency since the 1990s in China.

While scientists say that it is not possible to link a single extreme weather-event to climate change—such as one drought—a pattern of increasing and worsening droughts in many parts of the world is expected under climate change scenarios.

According to state meteorologists, the drought is the worst some places have seen in a century.

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