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"After" Copenhagen
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Extreme weather linked to climate change, say Chinese - 5 Jan 2010  

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FREAK snowstorms and record low temperatures sweeping northern China are linked to global warming, say Chinese officials.

But this week's dump appears to have no link to the Chinese Government's relentless efforts to manipulate the weather, which have prompted decades of experiments designed to modify the micro-climate.

Beijing's first attempt at weather modification involved a fighter-bomber dumping 200 kilograms of dry ice or common kitchen salt - depending on the source - into the clouds to break a drought in 1958, following an edict from Mao Zedong.

Today, China has about 2000 weather modification offices, which bomb the skies with silver iodide to induce rain.

No officials have claimed credit for inducing or amplifying the snow dump, in contrast to November 1, when Beijing recorded its earliest winter snowfall in 22 years.

The Beijing Weather Modification Office later admitted that it had fired 186 rockets into the air to break the drought.

The office also claimed some credit for turning oppressive smog into a brilliant blue sky just in time for China's National Day military parade on October 1.

And it blasted the sky with 1104 rockets to keep the rain at bay for 2008's Beijing Olympics opening ceremony.

The Southern Weekend newspaper reported that the program had previously been halted in 1980, after a decade in which 169 people were killed and 410 injured due to unspecified weather manipulation-related accidents.

Beijing winters are normally cold but arid, with only a a light dusting of snow. On Sunday, the city experienced up to 33 centimetres of snow, its biggest dump since 1951, immediately followed by the harshest Siberian winds in decades.

Yesterday more than 2 million Beijing and Tianjin students received the day off school because traffic had been thrown into chaos.

Tomorrow morning the mercury is forecast to plunge to minus 16 - a 40-year low - following a daytime maximum of minus 8.

The head of the Beijing Meteorological Bureau, Guo Hu, linked this week's blizzard-like conditions to unusual atmospheric patterns caused by global warming.

Russia's far-eastern island of Sakhalin has also been paralysed by five days of blizzards and avalanches, cutting off links to the mainland and burying a train, along with three railway workers, under snow drifts three metres deep.

Blizzards hit the island off the eastern coast of Siberia on New Year's Eve, when an avalanche forced a diesel locomotive and snowplough off their tracks, and continued on Friday, when three workers sent to repair the damage were swept up, according to the Russian state news service RIA Novosti.


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Source: The Age