China warns Tibet climate risks could soar despite short-term gains

Thomson Reuters
People walking in downtown Lhasa, Tibet, China
Phuong D. Nguyen/Shutterstock

SHANGHAI - Rapid climate change in China's Qinghai-Tibet plateau could destabilise water supplies and cause more frequent disasters, even though warmer temperatures have improved conditions in the short term, scientists said after an expedition to the region.

The region, which covers much of China's remote northwest and includes the Himalayas, has been identified as one of the country's "ecological security barriers" and is a vital "water tower" regulating flows to eastern, central and southern Asia.

A recent report by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said the plateau region was facing rising flood hazards and more frequent extreme heat and rain.

Government researchers found that temperature and rainfall increases had made the region greener, more fertile and more "beautiful", expanding lakes and rivers and improving the habitats of gazelles, antelopes and donkeys.


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