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Nation looks to warm winter
( 2004-01-05 00:49) (China Daily)

Heavy winter jackets could soon become an endangered species.

China may experience a warm winter this year, the 18th consecutive one since 1986, a senior meteorologist said yesterday.

Dong Wenjie, executive director-general of the National Meteorological Centre (NMC), made the prediction at a press conference on major climate events last year.

Less dust storms during spring will follow a winter expected to be warmer than it should be.

"So far, the warming trend in China is especially occurring in tandem with global warming due to increasing greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide,'' Dong said.

"To make an accurate prediction for the warmer winter, we have to observe many other climate sectors, particularly temperature changes, through the rest of the season,'' he added.

China is only capable of predicting possible climate changes in the short-term, usually within a week, experts with NMC say.

Longer predictions of climate change ranging from 15 to 30 days remains a difficult problem all over the world.

However, statistics from the NMC show temperatures in Northeast China and Beijing in December 2003 were already two or three degrees higher than the same period of the year 2002.

Stressing that final conclusions can only be made after gathering statistics for January and February, Ren Fuming of the NMC's climate diagnosis and estimation department told China Daily that this winter is expected to be "a little warmer than before.''

Indeed, many residents of Beijing have noticed it.

Chen Xin, 28, said she now wears a single jacket during day time. Not very long ago she had to wear heavy outwear to guard against the cold wind.

Zhang Hongzheng, who also lives in the capital and works in the meteorological field, said the temperature this winter could be up to five degrees higher than before.

"With a higher outdoor temperature this winter, I feel the indoor temperature is also higher than usual,'' said he.

While it creates a comfortable environment for people to live in, the warmer weather is expected to exacerbate a drought that threatens northern China.

"Drought or not mainly depends on the flood season in the summer,'' Ren Fuming with MNC noted. "But little rain in the north this winter will certainly worsen the situation.''

As for duststorms, a chronic headache North China has suffered over the past decades, Dong Wenjie said "more clear days are likely to appear in the North this spring."

Spring is traditionally a season when the sky is clouded over by drifting sands in the country's north and northwest parts.

"The number of duststorms will continue to drop in the coming spring due to weak winter monsoons -- the major factor causing dusty weather -- observed throughout East Asia so far this year and increased rainfall in the north last year,'' Dong told media.

Last spring, there were only seven duststorms in the north, Dong confirmed, adding "this was less than half of that reported in the previous years.''

Unlike in 2002, the drought-prone North and Northwest China experienced a rainy autumn last year as rainfall increased two times in most areas.

Last autumn, North China experienced the rainiest season in 42 years as subtropic high pressure fronts stayed there for a long spell.

However, the subtropic anticyclone reduced average rainfalls in South China last year with a lowest precipitation recorded there since 1961.

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