China is heating up faster than the global average, data shows

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) – China has seen faster temperature increases and rising sea levels than the global average rate over the past few decades, and experienced more frequent extreme weather events, according to official data.

From 1951 to 2019, China’s temperature rose an average of 0.24 deg C every ten years, according to the Blue Book on Climate Change published this week by the National Climate Centre.

The centre is China’s top climate research centre and is affiliated with the Meteorological Administration.

Average sea level rise near China’s coastal regions was 3.4mm per year from 1980 to 2019, faster than the global average of 3.2mm per year from 1993 to 2019. Last year, the level rose 24mm from the previous year and was 72mm higher than the country’s average from 1993 to 2011.

The annual report also noted an increase of surface water in China since 2015. The water level of Qinghai Lake, a major lake in China’s traditionally arid north-western region, was 3.1m higher in 2019 than it was 15 years earlier.

Last year, several major glaciers and frozen areas in China melted at a faster pace, according to the report.

Urumqi Glacier No.1 in north-west China, one of the glaciers most closely watched for the impact of climate change, melted in 2019 at the fastest pace since the 1960s, when data was first available.

China has been one of the countries most impacted by climate change, with rising sea levels threatening to submerge coastal mega cities like Shanghai if action isn’t taken to cut emissions.

In 2019, more than 900 people people were killed or went missing due to natural disasters including floods and typhoons, and over 19 million hectares of crops were damaged, according to the emergency management ministry.

Summer floods this year have caused US $25 billion (S$34.14 billion) of direct economic damage.

The National Climate Centre’s report also highlighted some positive signs in China’s re-forestation campaign.

There has been a “steady” increase of the country’s vegetation coverage rate since 2000, it said.

Last year, the Normalised Difference Vegetation Index – an indicator that quantifies live green vegetation – was 5.7 per cent higher than the average level from 2000 to 2018.

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