Qinghai-Tibet Railway Not to Be Affected by Global Warming in 40 Years
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A Qinghai-Tibet Plateau expert said on Tuesday that the Qinghai-Tibet Railway will not be affected by global warming in at least four decades.
Yao Tandong, a researcher with the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told Xinhua the highest railway in the world was built with designs to accommodate the impact of global warming.
About 960 kilometers of the track is 4,000 meters above sea level, with the highest point at 5,072 meters.
"According to the current pace of global warming, the plateau's temperature would rise 2.5 Celsius degree around 2050 from the end of 20th century," Yao said on the sidelines of the annual parliamentary session.
He said the railway was built to allow a 2-3 Celsius degree temperature rise through measures including fixing ventilators under the railway and installing equipment producing cooling air to prevent thawing of tundra.
The highest and longest plateau railroad of the world goes through a 550-km tundra area, with frost soil less than 400 km including less-than-190 km "unstable tundra" and less-than-100 km high-temperature tundra area, studies show.
Tundra was the railway's "footstone" to ensure a stable roadbed, Yao said, adding the railway authority should step up monitoring and early-warning mechanism so as to handle possible geological hazards.
The 814-km section from Xining to Golmud, Qinghai, began operations in 1984. Construction on the Golmud-Lhasa section started on June 29, 2001.
The project is dubbed an "engineering marvel" because people used to think the perennial ice and slush along the route could never support tracks and trains.
It has been the first railway to connect Tibet with the rest of China.
The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, where about 84 percent of the country's glaciers are located, has also seen an annual glacier retreat of 131.4 square kilometers, twice the size of Beijing's downtown area, in the past three decades.
Experts say a further 13,000 square kilometers of glaciers will disappear from the plateau by 2050 if no protective measures are taken. Global warming was the main cause of the glacier retreat.
(Xinhua News Agency March 11, 2009)