Three Gorges Probe

Heatwave puts China's giant dam in the dock

Asia Times Online
August 30, 2006

‘Startlingly, no scientific evaluation of the possible impact on the local weather was ever conducted as part of the feasibility study of Three Gorges dam.’

Hong Kong: It’s been hot in China. When the temperature in Chongqing hit a 53-year high of 44.5 degrees Celsius this summer, people noted that the city is on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River and began to wonder whether the construction of the Three Gorges Dam downriver might take some blame for the unusually hot and dry weather. Green critics claim that the prolonged heat and drought is a typical environmental consequence of a great dam. According to Wang Hongqi, a Beijing-based geographical and environmental scholar, the dam unexpectedly functions as a colossal screen preventing water vapor from the Yangtze River from normally circulating in the area. Situated in southwest China, Sichuan province is a broad basin in terms of topography. When the water vapor cycles between the basin and the outside is impeded, the temperature inside begins rising, causing droughts as time goes by. This is called the "barrel effect", according to Wang. However, Wang’s hypothesis is rejected by Zhang Qiang, chief of the Climate Impact Assessment Office under the China Meteorological Administration (CMA). Zhang insists that the heatwave lingering in Sichuan is caused by the global environment, and that there is insufficient scientific proof to verify the "barrel effect" theory.

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