AFX News Limited, Forbes.com
Icy temperatures have swept through south China, stranding 180,000 people and leading to widespread power cuts, just as the area was recovering from the worst weather in 50 years, the government said. The latest cold snap has taken a severe toll in mountainous but usually temperate Yunnan province, struck by heavy snowfalls since Thursday, a government official from the provincial disaster release office told Agence France-Presse.
In Yunnan, 12 people have died, the official Xinhua news agency reported, and four remained missing as of Saturday. The snowfalls over the past few days have cut off 14,000 kilometres of roads in Yunnan, stranding large numbers of people, the newspaper said, citing provincial transport authorities.’As the bad weather continues, the rescue work is becoming much harder,’ said the official from the provincial disaster release office, referring to helping stranded passengers, clearing roads and getting power back up.
‘Among all the cities affected by the snow disaster, Qujing city suffered from the greatest economic losses,’ the official added. Some 180,000 people were stranded in south China due to the latest weather troubles, the government and state media reported. Usually warm and sunny Yunnan was one of the areas hard hit by the frigid weather in January and early February, which pummelled China’s south, southwest and east, in the worst winter weather seen in five decades. The three weeks of severe weather left millions stranded, as the nation’s power and transport networks were unable to cope with the blizzards and sub-zero temperatures.
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By Agence France-Presse, Beijing
About 100,000 migratory birds disappeared in recent fierce snow storms in eastern China, state media reported Sunday.About 95 percent of the world’s white cranes, half of the white-naped cranes and 60 percent of swan geese are believed to migrate to a nature reserve at Poyang Lake each year in Jiangxi province, Xinhua news agency said.Poyang Lake is China’s biggest fresh water lake and an internationally significant wetland area.
Hundreds of workers at the reserve distributed grain, corn and vegetables but found only 40,000 birds, leaving about 100,000 unaccounted for, said Luo Shengjin, deputy director of the reserve. Luo said no mass deaths had been uncovered and the birds could have migrated elsewhere. But the reserve was still concerned and was planning to employ helicopters to widen the search for the missing birds.The worst weather in decades hit large areas of China last month, killing at least 107 people and causing more than 15 billion dollars in economic losses, according to official figures. Read more here.
Poyong Lake in Better Weather, a major wetland area for wildlife
There’s an upside to the extreme cold temperatures northern Canadians have endured in the last few weeks: scientists say it’s been helping winter sea ice grow across the Arctic, where the ice shrank to record-low levels last year. Temperatures have stayed well in the -30s C and -40s C range since late January throughout the North, with the mercury dipping past -50 C in some areas. Satellite images are showing that the cold spell is helping the sea ice expand in coverage by about 2 million square kilometres, compared to the average winter coverage in the previous three years.
“It’s nice to know that the ice is recovering,” Josefino Comiso, a senior research scientist with the Cryospheric Sciences Branch of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland, told CBC News on Thursday. “That means that maybe the perennial ice would not go down as low as last year.” Canadian scientists are also noticing growing ice coverage in most areas of the Arctic, including the southern Davis Strait and the Beaufort Sea.
The cold is also making the ice thicker in some areas, compared to recorded thicknesses last year, Lagnis added. “The ice is about 10 to 20 centimetres thicker than last year, so that’s a significant increase,” he said. If temperatures remain cold this winter, Langis said winter sea ice coverage will continue to expand. See more here.