by Stephen Chen
A team of Chinese researchers
says a period of global cooling
could be on the way,
but the consequences will be serious.
Photo : Xinhua
Research warns that if average increase in global
temperatures reaches 2oC there may be 27,000
more heat-related deaths compared with rise of 1.5oC
Study highlights China's increased vulnerability to
warming process and urges authorities to find ways to
help people to adapt
Faster rate of global warming could cause tens of thousands more
deaths in China each year
A new study (Shrinkage
of East Asia Winter Monsoon Associated with Increased ENSO Events
since the Mid-Holocene) has found winters in northern
China have been warming since 4,000BC - regardless of
human activity - but the mainland scientists behind the research
there is no room for
complacency or inaction on climate change, with the prospect of
a sudden global cooling also posing a danger.
The study found that
winds from Arctic Siberia have been growing weaker, the conifer tree
line has been retreating north, and there has been a steady rise in
biodiversity in a general warming trend that continues today.
It appears to have little to do with the increase in greenhouse
gases which began with the
industrial revolution, according to
Lead scientist Dr. Wu Jing, from the Key Laboratory of
Cenozoic Geology and Environment at the Institute of Geology and
Geophysics, part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said the study
had found no evidence of human influence on
northern China's warming winters.
the sun, the atmosphere, and
its interaction with the ocean," Wu said.
"We have detected
no evidence of human influence. But that doesn't mean we can
just relax and do nothing."
lake, a small volcanic lake hidden
deep forest of China's Greater Khingan Mountain range,
team of scientists spent more than a decade
studying the secrets hidden in its sediments.
Wu and her colleagues are
concerned that, as societies grow more used to the concept of
global warming, people will develop
misplaced confidence in our ability to control climate
Nature, they warned,
may trick us and might catch us totally unprepared - causing
chaos, panic, famine and even wars as the global climate system
There are already
alarming signs, according to their paper, which has been accepted
for publication by the online Journal of Geophysical Research:
Wu and her colleagues spent more than a dozen years studying
sediments under Moon Lake, a small volcanic lake hidden in the deep
forests of the
Greater Khingan Mountain Range in
China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region.
They found that winter warming over the past 6,000 years had not
been a smooth ride, with ups and downs occurring about every
Their findings confirmed an earlier study by a separate team of
Chinese scientists, published by the online journal Scientific
Reports in 2014, which first detected the 500-year cyclical
pattern of China's summer monsoons and linked it to solar activity.
The 2014 research, which drew on 5,000 years' worth of data,
suggested the current warm phase of the cycle could terminate over
the next several decades, ushering in a 250-year cool phase,
potentially leading to a partial slowdown in 'man-made' global
Wu said the latest study, with 10,000 years' worth of new data, not
only helped to draw a more complete picture of the 500-year cycle
but also revealed a previously unknown mechanism behind the
phenomenon, which suggested the impact of the sun on the Earth's
climate may be greater than previously thought.
According to Wu, the variation in solar activity alone was usually
not strong enough to induce the rapid changes in vegetation the
research team recorded in the sediment cores of Moon Lake.
Instead, the scientists found,
the warming impact
was amplified by a massive, random interaction between surface
seawater and the atmosphere in the Pacific Ocean known as the
El Niño-Southern Oscillation.
As a result of the
research findings, Wu said she was now more worried about
cooling than warming.
"A sharp drop in
temperature will benefit nobody. The biggest problem is, we know
it will come, but we don't know exactly when."