May 30, 2023
Frequent Extreme Weather in 2010 Led to Heaviest Loss in a Decade

Reporter: Ruan Yulin
Date: 2011-1-12


DONGGUAN (China News Service) China saw the most abnormal weather conditions in a decade in 2010, according to the National Climate Center. Extreme weather events occurred frequently during the year, bringing losses from weather-induced natural disasters to their highest level since the beginning of the twenty-first  century.

2010 was a very abnormal year for China's climate, National Climate Center Director Song Lianchun said at a press conference in Dongguan, Guangdong province on January 12. Precipitation was relatively high, with unusual regional and seasonal distribution and alternating periods of drought and flooding, said Song. Annual average temperature was also high; seasons changed later, and the number of high-temperature days reached a historical high. Extreme high-temperature days and heavy rainfall occurred frequently, showing rarely-seen high intensity and wide coverage.

Precipitation in 2010 was 681mm, the second-highest level since 1961, and the number of days with torrential rain was 21.5% more than in the average year and the third most since 1961, according to National Climate Center monitoring. Annual average temperature was 9.5℃, 0.7℃ higher than in the average year, making 2010 the tenth hottest year since 1961, and the fourteenth consecutive year that the annual average was above the running average. Summer temperatures and the number of high-temperature days were the highest since 1961.

According to Song, in 2010, extreme weather events occurred frequently in China, and meteorological disasters caused their largest loss so far this century. Climatic disasters and secondary disasters were heavy, leading to severe economic loss and loss of life.

Floods and droughts caused the most harm to crops, accounting for 41% and 38% of weather-damaged crop area, respectively, according to national statistics. Low temperatures and snow each accounted for 10% of total damaged area. Weather conditions took their biggest toll on traffic infrastructure and  flow  in a decade. 

Song explained that 2010's unusual weather was closely related to abnormalities in each  cycle of the climate system and the interaction between those cycles. First, the most apparent anomalous phenomena occurred in the tropical Pacific, where El Nino and La Nina occur. Monitoring indicates that El Nino ended in May, La Nina began to develop in June and fully emerged in July. This rapid change significantly affected the last three seasons of the year and exerted important influence on hurricane activities.

Unusual polar atmospheric circulation was the second cause. Cold polar air headed south continuously, significantly impacting countries and regions located at medium and high latitudes. Third, from June to August the strongest western Pacific subtropical pressure on record directly affected summer weather. Forth, global climate change was the backdrop to the increase in number and intensity of extreme weather events.

Song said that climate and climate change have already become important global issues. Although climate change occurs gradually, extreme weather events happen in abrupt and drastic ways, exerting profound influence on humankind. People must bear a “shared but differentiated” responsibility and take immediate action to deal with the effects of climate change.

Translator: Xu Danmeng

Proofreader: Bao Lan; Megan Ko