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Chinese Rangelands will Suffer

Page history last edited by PBworks 13 years, 10 months ago



An experiment on the effect of climate change on grazing land in China's

Tibetan Plateau has shown that 26-36 percent of plant species in the

region will decline if global temperatures continue to rise.


Chinese and US scientists conducted the experiments from 1998-2001 in

experimental zoned rangelands where Earth's temperatures are rising

faster than anywhere else.


The findings were shown to Daily Planet Media during a joint meeting of

the International Rangeland Congress and the International Grassland

Congress held last weekend in Hohhot, the capital of the Inner Mongolia

Autonomous Region.


The climate change experiment fenced 900 square meter sites and laid

out 16 plots inducing simulated warming by using open top greenhouses

and grazing through selective clipping.


Each greenhouse measuring 1.5 meters in diameter and 40 centimeters

high were left on the plots year-round, raising the average daily

temperature by 0.6 to 2C degrees.


The experiments revealed medicinal plants had an average annual loss

of 3.9 species from 1999 to 2001, while palatable plants had an annual

average decline of 5.4 species, according to researchers John Harte of

the University of California and Zhao Xinquan, of the Northwest Plateau

Institute of Biology.


The researchers said plants' individual characteristics, such as their

history and root depths, influenced their reactions to the warming. Deep-

rooted species, which lost an average of 20 percent, were less affected

than shallow-rooted species.


The experiments also showed that continued global warming would

lower rangeland quality by decreasing the plants' productivity, while

grazing could maintain or improve rangeland quality by extending the

plants growing season.


"Our findings suggest the rangelands on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and

the pastoralists who depend on them, may be vulnerable to future

climate changes," said Julia Klein, a US Colorado State University

assistant professor who led the research.


Global warming caused by human-made greenhouse gas emissions has

increased the average temperatures of Earth's near-surface air and

oceans since the mid-20th century.


Most climate scientists agree that a continuation of the current warming

temperatures will result is more extreme weather-related disasters such

as flood and drought, the melting of glaciers and the expansion of desert

and rangeland degradation.


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For more global warming, climate change news updates, please visit



posted to ClimateConcern by eve of Earthcharter Foundation

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