A file photo of pedestrians braving the cold in central China in early 2008, when the nation was hit by devastating winter storms. Photo: Xinhua

A group of leading meteorologists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences issued an unusual warning about “regional cooling” last week, while the bulk of the nation was hit by searing heat.

They warned that northern China – provinces north of the Yellow River in particular – may need to brace for harsher winters after the group carried out extensive studies on weather data in a “500-year climate cycle.”

Their conclusion was that these provinces should be worried about something contrary to the prevailing concepts about global warming, as “a sudden cool shift” could be on the way.

Lead scientist Wu Jing, who is with the Beijing-based Institute of Geology and Geophysics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, is of the view that human impact, in particular greenhouse gas emissions, could have been exaggerated in the context of climate change in northern China.

According to her, the sun, the atmosphere and its interaction with the ocean could be far more significant factors.

Wu’s team gained insights into the climate circle from sediments in volcanic lakes in the wilderness of the Greater Khingan Mountain Range in Inner Mongolia, and they collected and crunched climate data spanning as far back as 10,000 years.

Wu said she was now more worried about cooling than warming.

Electricity cables destroyed in a snow storm, leading to a massive blackout in central China in early 2008. Photo: Xinhua

Their findings of a 500-year cyclical pattern of China’s summer monsoons suggest that the current warm phase of the cycle could slowly come to an end over the next several decades before 2100, bringing in a 250-year cool phase, potentially leading to a partial slowdown in man-made global warming.

Their findings also corroborate the conclusions of previous research by a separate group of Chinese scientists in 2014 on the climate cycles affecting northern China, according to the South China Morning Post.

China suffered devastating winter storms in early 2008 when a massive mantle of thick snow and ice sealed off expressways, affecting large swathes of the southern and central provinces, when the nation was about to celebrate Chinese New Year. The cold snaps and blizzards from Arctic Siberia led to the harshest winter in China in half a century.

Citing experts, Xinhua also reported that “climate cooling” would not necessarily mean cooler summers in northern China as the pendulum may swing between extreme cold and heat.

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