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Glaciers on China's Qinghai-Tibet plateau are shrinking by seven per cent a year because of global warming, the state news agency Xinhua reported yesterday (2 May).

As the glaciers disappear, the high plateau is turning into desert and this will eventually trigger more droughts and sandstorms, warns Dong Guangrong of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Dong, whose study used over four decades of data from 681 Chinese weather stations, concludes that global warming is to blame.

Han Yongxiang of the National Meteorological Bureau Global told Xinhua that average temperatures in Tibet have risen by 0.9 degrees Celsius since the 1980s, which has caused the glaciers to melt faster.

Sandstorms are becoming increasingly severe in northern China because of land degradation. On average, their frequency has grown from five a year in the 1960s to 24 in the 1990s according to the UN Environment Programme.

Last month, a major sandstorm swept across northern China, dumping 330,000 tonnes of sand on Beijing.