On 8 July 2023, the China Meteorological Administration unveiled the 2023 edition of the China Climate Change Blue Book at the International Ecological Civilization Guiyang Forum. The report provides a detailed analysis of the latest data on climate change, examining both local and global perspectives in the context of the atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, biosphere, and the primary drivers of climate change.
Atmospheric Changes: The Persistent Global Warming Trend
The Blue Book highlights an unrelenting global warming trend. Data from 2022 shows an alarming escalation in global average temperature to 1.13°C above the pre-industrial era. China’s pace of warming, in particular, surpasses the global average. The frequency of extreme high-temperature events has increased significantly, with 2022 witnessing the most since records began in 1961.
Hydrospheric Adjustments: Ocean Warming and Rising Sea Levels
The report indicates that global oceanic warming has intensified, resulting in a steady rise in average sea levels. Specifically, 2022 marked the highest global average sea level since satellite monitoring began. Along China’s coastlines, the trend aligns with global data, with sea levels in 2022 reaching their highest since 1980.
Cryospheric Shifts: Accelerated Melting of Glaciers
Glaciers worldwide are receding at an alarming rate. Notably, several major glaciers in China, including those in the Tianshan, Altai Mountain region, Qilian Mountain region, Yangtze River source, and Transverse Mountain region, all demonstrated an accelerated melting trend in 2022.
Biospheric Transformation: Increasing Vegetation Coverage
While global vegetation is suffering, China has managed to buck this trend. Between 2000 and 2022, there was a significant improvement in China’s annual average Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), indicating an increased green cover. Furthermore, the advancement of plant phenology and a gradual increase in mangrove forests underline China’s commitment to environmental restoration and sustainability.
Primary Climate Change Drivers: Escalating Greenhouse Gas Concentrations
Finally, the Blue Book highlights the accelerating global concentrations of major greenhouse gases. In 2021, the levels of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide reached an all-time high since the start of record-keeping.
Since 2011, the China Meteorological Administration has released 13 annual editions of the China Climate Change Blue Book. Each edition offers fresh insights and identifies new trends in climate change, providing accurate, comprehensive scientific data that shapes regional and national climate policies. This 2023 edition continues the tradition, warning of the ongoing climate crisis and providing guidance for the responses to it.