News / Asia

China's Heavy Rains Blamed on Unusual Climate Patterns

Helicopters were crucial in evacuating more than 250,000 people in China's northeastern Liaoning province days ago. Torrential rains battered the area and led to severe flooding along the border with North Korea. Weather experts and Chinese officials attribute the heavier than usual rainfall to unusual climate patterns and global warming.

This was the latest of what has become a summer of natural disasters for China. Official media call it the country's worst flooding in a decade, leaving more than 1,500 dead and hundreds of thousands of others displaced and experts say unusual weather patterns are to blame.

Earlier in August, heavy rains in northwestern Gansu province triggered landslides that killed more than 1,400 people and left more than 300 others missing. Rain caused smaller mudslides in southwestern China, including in Yunnan and Sichuan provinces. Some of the affected areas in Sichuan were previously damaged by a massive earthquake in 2008.  

Devastating floods also hurt farm production. Floods wiped out many rice paddies in central Hunan province, one of China's top rice-growing regions, and damaged crops in northeastern Jilin province, China's main grain-growing region.

Dean of Hong Kong City University's School of Energy and Environment Johnny Chan said this much rain is just not normal.

"But it is in a way expected because this is a year following an El Nino," said Chan.

El Nino describes a climate pattern in which warmer surface temperatures of the water in the Pacific Ocean cause unusual weather around the world. The El Nino pattern showed up in 2009.

Besides this phenomenon, Chan points to global warming, which he also blames for causing more frequent heavy rains. And, he said, heavy deforestation exacerbates the flooding problem in China.

"What happens is that if you have very heavy deforestation, the topsoil is soft, and when it rains there are not enough trees to hold the topsoil,” he said.  “The topsoil is gone whenever it rains, so it is washed into the rivers, which makes the banks rise, and the river shallow. And as a result, when there is heavy rain, you will be likely to get flooding because the amount of water that the river can hold becomes smaller.”

Whatever the cause, the Chinese government has mounted a massive effort to help flood victims. Many people have expressed gratitude for the rescue and recovery efforts.

Those saved include 23-year-old Liu Li, who was heavily pregnant and stranded at her home in Liaoning. Liu says she was afraid before the rescuers arrived, and is very thankful for their help. She gave birth to a baby girl after being delivered safely to a hospital.

The tragedy in Gansu brought Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to the worst-hit areas, to show the government's concern for the landslide victims. Mr. Wen urged the country to come together and work hard to recover from the disaster. He said the country can move forward only if the Communist party, the government, the army and the people are united.

China's Ministry of Land and Resources blames "extreme weather" for this year's tenfold increase in geological disasters, such as landslides. August and September are the main flooding months, according to ministry officials, and there is still a possibility of more heavy rains.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More