Impact of Climate Change on China
Climate change, a global issue, has already had certain impacts on China's economy, ecosystem and other sectors.
1)Impact on Agriculture and Livestock Industry
Climate change has already had certain impacts on agriculture and livestock industry in China,primarily shown by the 2-to-4-day advancement of spring phenophase since 1980s. Future climate change can affect agriculture and livestock industry in the following ways: increased instability inagriculture production, where the yields of three main crops, i.e. wheat, rice and maize, are likely todecline if no proper adaptation measures are taken; changes in distribution and structure of agricultural production as well as in cropping systems and varieties of the crops; changes inagricultural production conditions that may cause drastic increase in production cost and investment need; increased potential in aggravation of desertification, shrinking grassland area and reduced productivity that result from increased frequency and duration of drought occurrence due to climate warming; and potentially increased rate in disease breakout for domestic animals.
2)Impact on Forest and Other Natural Ecosystems
Climate change has brought impact on forest and other natural ecosystems in China. For example, the glacier area in the northwestern China shrunk by 21 percent and the thickness of frozen earth in Qinghai-Tibet Plateau reduced by a maximum of 4—5 meters in recent 50 years. Futureclimate change continues to impact these ecosystems to some extent. Firstly, the geographical distribution of major forest types will shift northward and the vertical spectrum of mountain forestbelts will move upward. The distribution range of major tree species for afforestation or reforestationand some rare tree species is likely to shrink. Secondly, forest productivity and output will increase to different extents, by 1—2 percent in tropical and subtropical forests, about 2 percent in warmtemperate forests, 5—6 percent in temperate forests, and approximately 10 percent in cold temperateforests. Thirdly, the frequency and intensity of forest fires and insect and disease outbreaks are likelyto increase. Fourthly, the drying of inland lakes and wetlands will accelerate. A fewglacier-dependent alpine and mountain lakes will eventually decrease in volume. Fifthly, the area ofglaciers and frozen earth is expected to decrease more rapidly. It is estimated that glacier in western China will reduce by 27.7 percent by the year 2050, and the spatial distribution pattern of permafrost will alter significantly on Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Sixthly, snow cover is subjected to reduce largely.Seventhly, biodiversity will be threatened. The giant panda, Yunnan snub-nosed monkey and Tibetantelope are likely to be greatly affected.
3)Impact on Water Resources
Climate change has already caused the change of water resources distribution over China, adecreasing trend in runoff was observed during the past 40 years in the six main rivers, namely Haihe River, Huaihe River, Yellow River, Songhuajiang River, Yangtze River, and Pearl River.Meanwhile, there is evidence for an increase in frequency of hydrological extreme events, such asdrought in North and flood in South. The Haihe-Luanhe River basin is the most vulnerable region to climate change, followed by Huaihe River basin and Yellow River basin. The arid continental riverbasin is particularly vulnerable to climate change. In the future, climate change will have asignificant impact on water resources over China: In the next 50—100 years, the mean annual runoff is likely to decrease evidently in some northern arid provinces, such as Ningxia Autonomous Regionand Gansu Province, while it seems to increase remarkably in a few already water-abundant southern provinces, such as Hubei and Hunan provinces, indicating an increase of flood and drought eventsdue to climate change; the situation of water scarcity tends to continue in the northern China,especially in Ningxia Autonomous Region and Gansu Province, where water resource per capita arelikely to further decrease in the future 50—100 years; providing that water resources are exploitedand utilized in a sustainable manner, for most provinces, water supply and demand would bebasically in balance in the future 50—100 years. However, gap between water resource supply anddemand might be expanded in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Xinjiang Autonomous Region,Gansu Province, and Ningxia Autonomous Region.
4)Impact on the Coastal Zone
Climate change has brought certain impacts on the coastal environment and ecosystems of China in some extent, mainly represented by the accelerating trend of sea level rise along the Chinese coast in the past 50 years, which resulted in coastal erosion and seawater intrusion, as wellas mangrove and coral reef degradation. The future climate change will have even greater impact onthe sea level and coastal ecosystems of China. Firstly, the sea level along the Chinese coast will continue to rise. Secondly, the frequency of typhoon and storm surge will increase, aggravating the hazards induced by coastal erosion. Thirdly, some typical marine ecosystems, including coastalwetlands, mangroves and coral reefs, will be further damaged.
5)Impact on Other Sectors
Climate change may increase the frequency and intensity of the heat waves, hence increase deaths and serious diseases induced by extreme high temperature events. Climate change is likely to stimulate the emergence and spread of some diseases and to increase the magnitude and scope of diseases like cardiovascular diseases, malaria, dengue fever, and heatstroke, endangering human health. Meanwhile, climate change tends to increasingly impact China's medium to large sizedprojects, due to the increase of extreme weather and climate events and related hazards. Similarly,climate change may greatly harm natural and cultural tourism resources, as well as tourism securityin some areas. In addition, global warming will exacerbate the increasing trend of electricityconsumption for air conditioning and impose greater pressure on electric power supply.