China sea levels, temperatures rising amid climate change: government study

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Coastal sea levels around China were 48 millimeters higher last year than the 1993-2011 average, with winter ice floes shrinking and temperatures on the rise, the Ministry of Natural Resources said on Thursday.

Coastal water levels rose by an average of 3.3 mm a year from 1980 to 2018, and temperatures have also risen by an average of 0.37 degrees Celsius per decade over the same period, the ministry said in a study into the impact of climate change on the country’s coastal waters.

In December last year, average recorded temperatures were 1.7 degrees Celsius higher than normal, and winter ice volumes had also shrunk steadily. Government data also showed declining water pressure and falling wind speeds over the 1980-2018 period.

Globally from 1960 to 2018, the last four years saw the highest average annual sea water temperatures, and average water levels last year were the highest ever recorded, the study said.

It said China’s densely populated and environmentally fragile coastal regions were particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels and temperatures.

“In the context of climate change, rising sea temperatures and sea levels as well as extreme weather events like typhoons, giant tidal waves and storm surges will have a relatively big impact on the environment, society and economy of our coastal regions,” it said.

China has seen record temperatures and rainfall in a number of regions this year, and its meteorological bureau warned that it was facing more extreme weather as a result of climate change.

Many cities on China’s eastern coast have already drawn up contingency plans, with the financial hub of Shanghai looking into building new drainage tunnels and tidal gates to cope with rising sea levels.

Reporting by David Stanway; editing by Jane Wardell