The volume of water flowing in two of China's longest rivers -- the Yangtze and the Yellow -- is reducing steadily because of climate change linked to the contraction of wetlands, warned the country's leading scientists.
The China Daily quoted scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) as saying after an analysis of aerial photographs and satellite pictures, that the wetlands on the Tibetan Plateau had shrunk by over 10 percent over the past four decades.
They also claimed that the wetlands at the origin of the Yangtze have suffered the most, contracting by 29 percent. In addition, about 17.5 percent of the small lakes at the source of the Yangtze have dried up, the scientists said.
Wang Xugen, a researcher at the institute, was quoted as saying that the "shrinking of the wetland on the plateau is closely connected with global warming, adding that - even though rainfall has increased in the region - the contraction of the wetland has reduced the flow of the Yangtze and Yellow rivers."
Figures by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) weather station at the head of the Yangtze showed annual rainfall at its source increased from 260 mm during 1991-2000 to 323 mm in the period 2001-06.
Another WWF study showed global warming has caused glaciers to shrink, frozen earth to melt, grasslands to turn yellow and rivers to dry up.
The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau used to boast of 36,000 glaciers covering an area of 50,000 sq km. In the past 100 years, their area has shrunk by 30 percent.