Explore historical and projected climate data, climate data by sector, impacts, key vulnerabilities and what adaptation measures are being taken. Explore the overview for a general context of how climate change is affecting China.

Country Summary

This page presents high-level information for China's climate zones and its seasonal cycle for mean temperature and precipitation for the latest climatology, 1991-2020. Climate zone classifications are derived from the Köppen-Geiger climate classification system, which divides climates into five main climate groups divided based on seasonal precipitation and temperature patterns. The five main groups are A (tropical), B (dry), C (temperate), D (continental), and E (polar). All climates except for those in the E group are assigned a seasonal precipitation sub-group (second letter).  Climate classifications are identified by hovering your mouse over the legend. A narrative overview of China's country context and climate is provided following the visualizations.

Köppen-Geiger Climate Classification, 1991-2020
  • Af
  • Am
  • As/Aw
  • BWh
  • BWk
  • BSh
  • BSk
  • Csa
  • Csb
  • Csc
  • Cwa
  • Cwb
  • Cwc
  • Cfa
  • Cfb
  • Cfc
  • Dsa
  • Dsb
  • Dsc
  • Dsd
  • Dwa
  • Dwb
  • Dwc
  • Dwd
  • Dfa
  • Dfb
  • Dfc
  • Dfd
  • ET
  • EF

The People’s Republic of China is the world’s second largest economy and the largest country by population, with over 1.4 billion people (2020). The country is highly diverse, both in geography and ethnography. The country’s geography can be generally divided into four regions. The Southern region, consisting of hilly terrain and the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau. The Northern region, consisting of low productivity plains and deserts, including Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The Western Region, consisting of high-altitude plains and mountains in Tibet Autonomous Region, and the Eastern region, which can be sub-divided into the Central Plain, North Plain, and the Northeast Plain, consisting of alluvial plains of the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers, and a densely populated coastline. As of 2018 China contained six cities with populations over 10 million.

As of 2019, the economy of China was led by the service sector (53.9%) and industry (39.0%), with agriculture contributing 7.1% of national Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, the relative contribution of sectors to GDP is somewhat mismatched against the labour force, with agriculture employing approximately 27.7% of the working population (over 200 million smallholder farmers), industry 28.8% and services 43.5%. China has made great progress in its efforts of comprehensive poverty alleviation by 2020. As of 2019, 0.6% of the population were reported to be below the national poverty line, representing a dramatic reduction in poverty rates over the past three decades. Rapid economic growth is believed to have coincided with growth in income and wealth inequality; in 2016 the World Bank Group estimated China’s GINI Index (a representation of wealth distribution and inequality) at 38.5. 

Even in proportion to its large size and economy, China’s vulnerability to climatic hazards is high. Annual losses due to natural hazards average $76 billion and around one third of China’s agricultural land is affected by natural hazards such as storms, droughts, floods, land subsidence, and landslides. China’s Nationally Determined Contribution (2016) sets out a strong commitment to a transition to a sustainable and resilient low carbon economy. In 2020, China acknowledged its aim to peak CO2 emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.  

China’s Third National Communication to the UNFCCC (NC3) (2018) identifies the impacts of climate change in areas such as agriculture, water resources, ecosystems, coastal areas, and human health as priority concerns. This document aims to succinctly summarize the climate risks faced by China. This includes rapid onset and long-term changes in key climate parameters, as well as impacts of these changes on communities, livelihoods and economies, many of which are already underway. This is a high-level synthesis of existing research and analyses, focusing on the geographic domain of China, therefore potentially excluding some international influences and localized impacts.