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Tibet most harmed by global warming



By Wang Huazhong (China Daily)
China Daily is the official publication of the Communist party of China and the government of PRC.
Updated: 2009-05-07 07:38

The idyllic region of Tibet, known as the roof of the world, is suffering the most from global warming, experts said.

The China Meteorological Administration (CMA) said the temperature in Tibet increased 0.32C every ten years from the year 1961 to 2008.

Tibet is "suffering the most from the global warming effect", Zheng Guoguang, CMA director, told a conference on the effect of climate change on Tibet yesterday.

"Tibet is a region almost free from modern industries and emits little greenhouse gases but it has experienced a higher temperature increase than other regions in China."

Li Yan, a Greenpeace campaigner, said Tibet's altitude of above 4,000 meters made it a 'barometer of the world's climate' and very sensitive to any temperature change.

Carbon dioxide, a major type of greenhouse gas, rises to the higher layers of the atmosphere.

"The global warming process, which started from the industrial revolution and has sped up in recent decades, is to blame for Tibet's anguish," said Li.

In recent decades, Tibet has experienced receding ice lines, melting glaciers and ice caps, extreme weather, changing landscapes and a decrease in bio-diversity.

Natural disasters attributed to global warming such as mudslides, landslides, and the bursting of lake banks have been recorded in Tibet from 1993 to 2005.

Zheng said these disasters resulted in 274 people being killed and 1,604 injured. It also caused a direct economic loss of 670 million yuan ($98 million).

Dawa Tsering, World Wildlife Fund's Tibet program director, said melting ice had increased water levels in Selin Lake since 1999.

The change submerged large areas of grassland adjacent to Mayue village and washed away farmers' livelihoods.

Natives had been forced to modify cultural traditions such as cutting sheep wool in June because hot weather had impacted wool production and animal growth.

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