Advances in Atmospheric Sciences

, Volume 24, Issue 6, pp 954–971 | Cite as

Detection, causes and projection of climate change over China: An overview of recent progress

  • Ding Yihui  (丁一汇)
  • Ren Guoyu  (任国玉)
  • Zhao Zongci  (赵宗慈)
  • Xu Ying  (徐影)
  • Luo Yong  (罗勇)
  • Li Qiaoping  (李巧萍)
  • Zhang Jin  (张锦)


This article summarizes the main results and findings of studies conducted by Chinese scientists in the past five years. It is shown that observed climate change in China bears a strong similarity with the global average. The country-averaged annual mean surface air temperature has increased by 1.1°C over the past 50 years and 0.5–0.8°C over the past 100 years, slightly higher than the global temperature increase for the same periods. Northern China and winter have experienced the greatest increases in surface air temperature. Although no significant trend has been found in country-averaged annual precipitation, interdecadal variability and obvious trends on regional scales are detectable, with northwestern China and the mid and lower Yangtze River basin having undergone an obvious increase, and North China a severe drought. Some analyses show that frequency and magnitude of extreme weather and climate events have also undergone significant changes in the past 50 years or so.

Studies of the causes of regional climate change through the use of climate models and consideration of various forcings, show that the warming of the last 50 years could possibly be attributed to an increased atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases, while the temperature change of the first half of the 20th century may be due to solar activity, volcanic eruptions and sea surface temperature change. A significant decline in sunshine duration and solar radiation at the surface in eastern China has been attributed to the increased emission of pollutants.

Projections of future climate by models of the NCC (National Climate Center, China Meteorological Administration) and the IAP (Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences), as well as 40 models developed overseas, indicate a potential significant warming in China in the 21st century, with the largest warming set to occur in winter months and in northern China. Under varied emission scenarios, the country-averaged annual mean temperature is projected to increase by 1.5–2.1°C by 2020, 2.3–3.3°C by 2050, and by 3.9–6.0°C by 2100, in comparison to the 30-year average of 1961–1990. Most models project a 10%–12% increase in annual precipitation in China by 2100, with the trend being particularly evident in Northeast and Northwest China, but with parts of central China probably undergoing a drying trend. Large uncertainty exists in the projection of precipitation, and further studies are needed. Furthermore, anthropogenic climate change will probably lead to a weaker winter monsoon and a stronger summer monsoon in eastern Asia.

Key words

climate change China detection causes climate models projection 


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Copyright information

© Science Press 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ding Yihui  (丁一汇)
    • 1
  • Ren Guoyu  (任国玉)
    • 1
  • Zhao Zongci  (赵宗慈)
    • 1
  • Xu Ying  (徐影)
    • 1
  • Luo Yong  (罗勇)
    • 1
  • Li Qiaoping  (李巧萍)
    • 1
  • Zhang Jin  (张锦)
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory for Climate StudiesChina Meteorological AdministrationBeijingChina

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