The story appears on

Page A3

November 5, 2009

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Nation

China's lakes shrink as drought crisis continues

CHINA'S second-largest freshwater lake, Dongting, had shrunk in area by more than half in just a month, a meteorologist said yesterday.

The water area of the lake, spanning the central provinces of Hubei and Hunan, measured 537.84 square kilometers by mid-October, only 40 percent of its size in September, said Liu Jinghui, of the Wuhan regional climate center of the Hubei Provincial Meteorological Bureau.

Satellite monitoring indicated the water area measured 1,338.57 sq km in September, Liu said, quoting results of a survey last month.

Liu attributed the drastic shrinkage to a drought in the lake region since August. Average rain dropped by about 50 percent and in some areas, up to 90 percent.

Southern and central China suffered a rare drought in the past month, cutting water input to Dongting and many other lakes, said Shen Xiaoli, general engineer with the Institute of Environmental Sciences of Hubei.

"The latest monthly shrinkage was the worst anyone can recall in a century," said Liu.

In addition to climate change, water storage at the Yangtze Three Gorges project in the upper reaches of the lake basin may also have affected the lake, the report said.

"It requires further analysis to find out the real causes," Liu said.

However, the monthly figure does not reflect the long-term change in the lake as meteorological and other factors could fluctuate drastically in a short period, Liu said.

Since 2001, when monitoring began, the water area of the lake had been shrinking by more than 1 percent, or about 16 sq km, each year, he said.

The shrinkage of water areas, pollution and ecological degradation are the major problems threatening lakes worldwide.

Lakes remain fragile in the face of global warming and rapid industrial and agricultural growth.

Hubei Province, once known as "the province of 1,000 lakes," has 2,438 sq km of lake area, or about 34 percent of the figure in the 1950s.

China has more than 24,800 lakes, but they are disappearing at a rate of about 20 every year.

In addition, many lakes suffer eutrophication, a result of excessive waste discharge.

A number of major lakes across China have suffered outbreaks of blue algae over the past decade, forcing authorities to launch expensive emergency campaigns.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend