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Heilongjiang Sees Higher Temperature, Severe Spring Drought

The Heilongjiang Province in the northernmost part of China, bordering Russia, is getting hotter because of global warming and faces the threat of worsening drought.

Statistics with the Heilongjiang Provincial Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters indicate the annual temperature averaged 4.5 degrees Celsius last year in the province, the highest in 47 years. The figure was about 1.8 degrees higher than the previous yearly average.

Meteorologists with the Heilongjiang Meteorological Observatory said in January that the provincial capital Harbin, known as the "city of ice", posted an average annual temperature of 6.6 degrees Celsius last year, the highest since meteorological records began in 1881.

"The record high annual average temperature was not incidental. It was closely related to the global warming trend," said Yin Xuemian, a senior meteorologist at the observatory.

More than 40 percent of the arable land in the province has been pestered with drought, totaling more than 4.6 million hectares, according to government statistics.

Forecasters warned that the drought would continue throughout this spring and jeopardize the grain output in the area viewed as the barns of China.

The provincial leadership has issued action plans and urgent notices to lower-level governments, requiring them to reinforce irrigation facilities, clean trenches and build more wells and ponds to store water.

(Xinhua News Agency March 2, 2008)

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