Sunday, July 15, 2007

Climate change sucks water from China's two longest rivers

Climate change linked to the contraction of wetlands at the source of China's two longest rivers, the Yangtze and the Yellow River, has reduced the volume of water flowing in the rivers, said Chinese scientists.Scientists from the Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) studied changes over the past 40 years to the wetlands on the cold Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in west China where the two rivers have their source.Analyzing aerial photos and satellite remote sensing figures, they found that the wetlands on the plateau have shrunk more than 10 percent over the past four decades. The wetlands at the origin of the Yangtze River suffered the most, contracting by 29 percent.In addition, about 17.5 percent of the small lakes at the source of the Yangtze River have dried up, said the scientists. "The wetland plays a key role in containing water and adjusting the water volume of the rivers," said Wang Xugen, a researcher with the Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment.


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