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Science offers solutions to severe drought

2010-03-31 09:08 BJT

BEIJING, March 31 -- The country's top meteorologist said science and technology will answer the prayers of those living through the harshest drought in decades afflicting Southwest China.

Some rural residents, desperate for relief from the dry spell they have been reeling under since last fall, are burning incense and paying obeisance to deities, praying for the heavens to open up.

"We have artificial precipitation equipment that is on par with the world's best, so instead of turning to religion, people can well count on science and technology to relieve drought and increase rain," said Zheng Guoguang, chief of the China Meteorological Administration.

Zheng, speaking at a press conference that marked the launch of a national statute on meteorological disaster relief, also promised farmers that they could expect the same meteorological services as their urban cousins.

Citing the regulations on prevention of and preparedness for meteorological disasters, due to take effect on Thursday, Zheng said the authorities will reinforce disaster monitoring and information dissemination infrastructure in the vast countryside.

Rural regions are more vulnerable to storms, blizzards, hail and other meteorological calamities that each year make a dent of up to 3 percent in the gross domestic product (GDP), he said.

For example, the drought ravaging Southwest China has left at least 18 million residents and 11.7 million head of livestock with drinking water shortages and caused direct losses of 23.7 billion yuan ($3.5 billion), according to figures from the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

"When there are suitable atmospheric conditions, weather bureaus will take measures to induce more rainfall," he told the press conference sponsored by the State Council Information Office.

From March 22 to 28, a dozen flights were made to induce precipitation, and nearly 10,000 artillery shells and 1,000 rockets were fired into the atmosphere over Yunnan, Guizhou, Sichuan, Guangxi and Chongqing, he said.

"The cloud seeding efforts have helped quench the drought, especially in Yunnan, as drizzle to medium-scale rain, and even heavy precipitation, was induced," Zheng said. "But the drought in Guizhou is expanding."

Nationwide, weather modification projects have covered more than 3.6 million sq km, or nearly one-third of the country's territory, involving some 6,500 cannons and nearly 6,000 rocket launchers, he said.

Editor: Zhang Ning | Source: China Daily