Annual Blue Book highlights increasing climate impacts on China

China Meteorological Administration has provided an alarming overview of wide-ranging climate impacts from sea level rise to melting glaciers in 2021, with the annual release of its Blue Book on Climate Change in China (2022) on 3 August.

Highlighting the country’s sensitivity to climate change, the Blue Book finds that China is warming faster than the rest of the world. Between 1951 to 2021, China’s average annual surface temperature rose at a pace of 0.26C per decade, while the global average was 0.15C per decade during the same period. The past two decades were the warmest for China since the beginning of the 20th century, while 2021 was the hottest year on record since 1901.

As China gets hotter, it is also becoming wetter. Between 1961-2021, the average annual rainfall increased by 5.5 millimetres every ten years. But the distribution of this increased precipitation is uneven across the country: North China receives more rain than the southern parts.

Extreme weather events are increasing, particularly heat waves and storms. Sea level rise is also more accentuated in China, increasing by 3.4 millimetres yearly since 1980, faster than the global average of 3.3 millimetres per year. In Western China, 2021 witnessed some of the most significant annual glacier retreats on record. The west end of Urumqi Heyuan 1 glacier retreated 8.5 metres in a year.

China has been publishing the annual climate Blue Book since 2018. The preface states that providing up-to-date climate monitoring data can assist “all levels of government to make climate-related policies” with the support of science and serve public climate communications. The Blue Book is divided into five sections that cover the atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, biosphere and the drivers of climate change.