this doesn’t look good

February 12th, 2009

I saw an article a few days ago in which somebody tried to pretend the drought would have no effect on sandstorms this season, and I remember immediately spluttering, “Bollocks!” How could the drought not have an effect? Well, of course it depends on the situation in the areas that so generously supply North China with an excess of windborne sand each Spring, so I suppose….

Well, then I came across this disconcerting article. It’s a bit repetitive, so I’m going to cut a hefty chunk of the first paragraph and maybe just paraphrase the rest before I get into the meat of it:

9400多亩植被受旱情影响  沙尘天气今春威胁北京

Over 9400 mu of vegetation affected by drought, sandstorms threaten Beijing this spring

Oh, just noticed an error in the headline. Later on the article says “9400多万亩”- over 94 million mu. Quite a difference.

Anyway, quickly paraphrasing the few important and unrepeated details in the first paragraph: This information comes from Luo Bin, vice chair of the State Forestry Administration‘s Sand Prevention and Control Office, and was presented at yesterday’s State Forestry Administration press conference. Now, the meat:

罗斌介绍,沙尘暴的发生,主要与大气环流时间、沙尘源状况和路径植被状况有关。对我国来讲,沙尘天气主要发生在每年3至5月。从目前情况看,我国阿拉善高 原以东的植被状况处于比较好的状态,但如果干旱范围扩大、干旱持续时间延长,将会对随后的返青造成影响,并直接影响到这些地区的植被发挥生态防护功能,对 沙尘天气的抑制作用也会有所减弱。

Luo Bin said that sandstorms normally occur in times of atmospheric circulation and are related to the conditions at the source of the sand and the condition of vegetation along their path. In China, sandstorms mainly occur from March to May each year. Looking at the current situation, the condition of vegetation to the east of China’s Alashan Plateau is in a relatively good state, but if the scope of the drought expands and it continues over a longer time, it could soon affect greening of vegetation and directly influence the ecological protective function of vegetation in these areas, weakening its controlling effect on sandy weather.

目前干旱主要影响到京津风沙风沙源治理工程范围的山西、河北、北京和天津,影响森林植被面积9400多万亩,其中包括工程新增林木植被4000多万亩、新增草 地治理1500多万亩。旱情特别会对2008年新造的286万亩林地成活和保存产生不利影响,预计补植补造任务会加大。如果旱情持续恶化,还将对这部分林 木植被发挥生态作用产生不利影响。

At present the drought mainly affects Shanxi, Hebei, Beijing and Tianjin within the scope of the Beijing-Tianjin Sandstorm Source Control Project, and has affected an area of forest and vegetation of over 94 million mu, including forest vegetation of over 40 million mu and managed pasture of 15 million mu newly added by the project. The survival and continued production of the 2.86 million mu of forest added in 2008 especially could be negatively affected by the drought, and it is expected there could be more replanting and reconstruction work. If the drought continues to deteriorate it could also negatively affect the ecological use and production of this forest vegetation.

So it’s the usual rough-as-guts translation. Corrections, as always, are welcome. But in the process of trying to find an official English name for the 防沙治沙办公室, I did find this potentially cool and useful website (although it does seem to have a bit much of a Gansu focus, and isn’t much use for those who don’t read Chinese).

And could I just state that I hate- I mean, really, really loathe- sandstorms?

Update: And I can’t say I’m surprised to see that the front page of Farmers’ Daily is almost entirely drought-relief, with articles of a more general, national scope and from widely-scattered provinces covering just about all of China’s arid and drought-prone areas (actually, that’s most of the country- both the entire northern half and the entire western half at the least). But faced with such a plethora of articles, I just don’t know where to begin.

So for those who haven’t yet noticed: Yes, I am starting to get really quite worried about this drought.

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