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In China, about 50% of the country is in arid and semiarid regions. Drought is the most severe climate disaster to affect China, and it causes significant reductions in grain yields. The area affected annually by drought has been estimated at about 20 million ha, which accounts for 59% of the total area affected by disasters. When severe droughts occur, they can affect as much as 33 million ha.
To monitor the occurrence and development of droughts efficiently and provide information on the strength and range of droughts and floods, the China Drought–Flood Climate Monitoring System was developed by the National Climate Center (NCC) in June 1995. The system can monitor the occurrence and development of droughts and floods and analyze disasters comprehensively. Since July 1996, directors of the China Meteorological Administration have been able to obtain information on national drought/ flood occurrence on a daily basis through a computer network using the system. The system provides a scientific basis for the government to take measures to prevent drought/flood disasters and safeguard lives and property. The system is also used to study and forecast drought/flood climate.