China faces more extreme weather as temperatures rise

The average temperature in China rose 0.26℃ every ten years from 1950 to 2020, increasing at a significantly faster pace than the global average, China’s Blue Book on Climate Change revealed on Wednesday.

As a result, China now faces more extreme heatwaves and heavy rainfall. Since 1961, annual precipitation has increased by 5.1 mm every ten years, with more uneven rainfall in different regions. The Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, for instance, witnessed a significant increase in rainfall.

In the period between 1980-2020, China’s sea level rose by 3.4 mm every year, faster than the annual pace of increase around the globe, which has been 3.3 mm per year since 1993. When measured last year, China’s sea level was 73 mm higher than the average level observed during the 1993-2011 period.

Glaciers in the country are also melting faster, although the loss is slightly less than the global average. On the Tibetan Plateau, the thickness of the active layer of the permafrost, an indicator of permafrost degradation, increased by 19.4 cm every ten years. 

Climate change has had an impact on plants too; at some observation stations, flowers such as the magnolia in Beijing, the robinia pseudoacacia in Shenyang, and the weeping willow in Hefei have all developed leaves a few days earlier every ten years since 1963. In 2020, the magnolia grew leaves 15 days earlier than normal, the earliest since observations started. At the same time, global warming turned deserts greener, and slowed down their expansion, the Blue Book says. Since 2010, researchers have also observed more coral bleaching in the South China Sea.

Read the story about how the melting glaciers affect China and South Asia here