Climate change has triggered more floods in China and challenged drainage systems in big cities, experts say.
“Although the rain is still more frequent in the south than in the north, there is a tendency that rainstorms sweeping northern provinces are as strong as those in the south,” Wu Zhenghua, a researcher of the Beijing Meteorological Bureau and member of Beijing Disaster Relief Association, said at a news conference on coping with urban flood disasters held by the China Association for Science and Technology.
The record precipitation was 126.4 mm in one hour in Beijing, while it was not very different from the 115 mm record in Hong Kong, 107 mm in Wuhan, Central China’s Hubei province, and 185 mm in Jinan, East China’s Shandong province, Wu said.
The July 21 rainstorm in Beijing, the heaviest in 61 years, caused precipitation as high as 541 mm in a township in Fangshan district, Wu said.
The 16-hour rain brought 170 mm of precipitation on average to the city and killed at least 79 people.
Statistics show that the rainfall intensity in northern provinces in China has increased in recent years, especially after 2008, Wu said.
“Global warming has increased the temperature in the middle and high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, resulting in more water-vapor exchange and heat exchange with low-latitude regions, and thus bringing more frequent heavy precipitation,” he said.
Wu said he is not sure whether the rainy climate will last for one or two decades, as some other experts say, but he suggests the government make long-term plans, including increasing the urban drainage capacity.