The Regional Impacts of Climate Change


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10.1. Regional Characteristics

10.1.1. Geography and Demography

This report covers countries in Temperate Asia between 18N and the Arctic Circle, including the Japanese islands, the Korean peninsula, Mongolia, most parts of China, and Siberia in Russia (see Figure 10-1). Geographically, the region is located on the northeastern part of the Eurasian continent-the world's largest continent-and borders the Pacific, the world's largest ocean. The east-west distance of the area is about 8,000 km, and its north-south extent is about 5,000 km. The world's largest plateau-the Qing-Zang plateau (Tibetan plateau), with an average elevation of more than 4,000 m-is located in southWest China. Mt. Qomolangma (formerly Mt. Everest), the highest peak in the world (8,848 m), lies near the southern border of the plateau. The lowest point of the region (-154 m) is found in the Turfen Depression, northeast of the Taklamakan Desert.


Figure 10-1: The Temperate Asia region [compiled by the World Bank Environment Department Geographic Information System (GIS) Unit].


Temperate Asia is composed of three regions: so-called monsoon Asia, excluding its tropical subregion; the inner arid/semi-arid regions; and Siberia (West Siberia, East Siberia, and Far East), which is covered largely by boreal forests and tundra. Tropical cyclones (typhoons) frequent the coastal regions. Inner Siberia, with a mean monthly temperature in January of about -50C, is the coldest part of the northern hemisphere in winter; this area is called the "cold pole." On the other hand, extremely dry, hot climate prevails in the Taklamakan Desert.

Human activities through the ages have brought profound changes to the landscape of the region: Except for the boreal forests in Siberia, for example, natural forests in the region have long been destroyed. Only in mountain areas do secondary forests remain (Numata, 1974). Broad plains have been cultivated and irrigated for thousands of years, and natural grasslands have been used for animal husbandry.

The present population and projected population in 2025 for each country or region in Temperate Asia, except Siberia and Taiwan, are listed in Table 10-1, based on statistics from United Nations Population Division (1993) and FAO (1995). The region's population is expected to grow from 1.42 billion in 1995 to 1.72 billion by 2025. Table 10-1 also shows the current land use in each country or region.


Table 10-1: Population (1995 and 2025) and land use (1993) in Temperate Asia.

Country or Region (1) Land Area (Mha) 1993 Population (000s) 1995 Population (000s) 2025 Urban Population (000s) 1995 Arable and Cropland (Mha) 1993 Pastureland (Mha) 1993 Forest and Woodland (Mha) 1993

China
932,641
1,221,462
14,96,722
369,736
95,975
400,000
130,496
Hong Kong
99
5,865
6,306
5,574
7
1
22
Japan
37,652
125,095
124,249
97,120
4,463
661
25,100
Korea, Dem People's Rep
12,041
23,917
33,522
14,650
2,000
50
7,370
Korea, Rep
9,873
44,995
52,946
36,572
2,055
90
6,460
Mongolia
156,650
2,410
4,421
1,468
1,401
125,000
13,750

Source: UN Population Division, FAO FAOSTAT.

(1) Data not available for Siberia and Taiwan.


In recent years, many countries in this region have shown marked economic development. Their GNPs and populations are increasing at an extremely fast rate. Thus, the environment in this region already is under great stress. The impacts of expected climate change may exacerbate existing environmental problems.


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