Beijing Hit With Sandstorm from the Gobi Desert
A strong weather disturbance in Western China has hit Beijing with a huge sandstorm from the Gobi Desert. While Beijing suffers periodically from sand blown from the nearby desert, this is the most intense sandstorm to hit the capital city in years.
At times the visibility in Beijing was less than 100 metres and combined with strong winds, the sand forced the cessation of outside construction works. People were forced to wear scarves or other protection on their faces in order to breathe.
Sand from the Gobi Desert can reach as far as Western North America. South Korea has already isssued an alert for sand coming from China. Coupled with concern about sand reaching Korea, Japan and N. America is the worry that toxic dust produced by manufacturing in China is being swept along with that from the Gobi Desert.
Gobi Desert Creeps Closer to Beijing
The Gobi Desert is growing by more than 1 000 square miles every year, creeping ever closer to Beijing. The expansion or desertification of the area has been blamed primarily on:
- overgrazing - too many animals for the land to support. The boom in the cashmere wool industry resulted in a spike in goat populations.
- deforestation - trees were cut to make room for marginal agriculture during the Cultural Revolution. Trees help to stabilize the soil and slow water runoff.
- mining the water - a combination of ill advised agriculture and increased demands by people has led to a lowering of the water table.
- urban sprawl - has paved over areas disrupting native vegetation.
- drought - the climate has been changing over the past few years, leading to drier weather and loosening of the soil.
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