As March drew to a close, so did China’s unusually warm winter. Normally rainy months in China’s south, February and March 2007 saw almost no rain. In some places, the warm weather allowed winter crops like winter wheat to thrive, growing more thickly than normal. In others, the warm weather and lack of rain withered plants. The drought hurt at least 13.5 million hectares of farmland throughout China, reported China Daily.
The impact of the dry, warm winter on vegetation in China’s southeast is illustrated by this vegetation image. The image compares vegetation conditions as observed by the SPOT satellite during March 2007 to the average of conditions seen every March from 1999 to 2006. Green areas show where plants were growing larger and most densely than normal, while brown and red indicate areas where plants were not growing as well as they do on average. The image illustrates the extreme contrast between areas where the warm weather fostered plant growth and areas where plants could not grow because of a lack of water. In Sichuan, the brown patch in the upper left corner of the image, the water shortage was so extreme that officials has to deliver fresh drinking water to the hardest hit areas, said the BBC. Parts of China’s northwest similarly ran low on water. The full extent of the drought in the north is illustrated in the large image.