Chinese Studies
2013. Vol.2, No.2, 101-103
Published Online May 2013 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2013 SciRe s . 101
Systems of China Meteorological Disaster Emergency Response*
Chen Zhenghong
China Meteorol ogical Administration Training Centre, Beijing, China
Received November 8th, 2012; revised January 2nd, 2013; accepted January 15th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Chen Zhenghong. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons At-
tribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the
original work is properly cited.
China Meteorological Administration (CMA) and the local Meteorological Bureaus, have set up Emer-
gency Management Office and associated organizations for weather emergency in the Chinese inland. A
suite of relatively comprehensive system for meteorological disasters and some emergency response pro-
grams have also been implemented by CMA. To illustrate how the mechanism operates, this paper pre-
sents two cases with one involving the Olympics weather emergency services in August 2008 and the
other the low-temperature and snow disaster emergency response in Southern China in early 2008. I con-
clude that weather emergency management in China should follow the scientific emergency management
principle, as well as the prevention-oriented and emergency rescue-combined principle.
Keywords: Meteorological Disasters; Meteorological Emergency Response; Emergency Response
General Descriptions on Metrological Disasters in
China is one of countries in the world with serious natural
meteorological disasters including typhoon, torrential rain,
drought, high temperature and heat wave, sand storm, thunder
and so on. In recent years, the global climate continues to warm,
resulting in frequent occurrences of a large variety of extreme
weather events. Each year the direct economical loss resulting
from meteorological disasters is approximately 22.8 billion
USD according to the statistics in 1990-2006, which on the
average accounts for 1% - 3% of GDP. Chinese meteorological
disasters have significantly increased and resulted in many
adverse impacts on society (Figure 1). That puts forward new
and higher requirements on Chinese weather emergency work.
Emergency Management Agencies of CMA
Emergency management is a very important task and func-
tion of Chinese government. It has especially been so since
SARS in 2003. Emergency management agencies of CMA are a
part of the whole emergency management system set up in
accordance with national requirements (Information Office of
the Chinese State Council, 2009). In 2005, CMA established
the Emergency Management Office. The Bureau of Meteorol-
ogy of every province, autonomous region, and municipality in
the Chinese mainland followed by setting up corresponding
emergency management offices. And over 300 local meteoro-
logical bureaus and even county-level meteorological bureaus
also established all kinds of offices and units in support to
emergency meteorological response.
CMA has also paid attention to emergency management
mechanisms and standard processes. The function of CMA
Emergency Management Office initiates and coordinates mete-
orological emergency issues including disaster monitoring,
forecasting, warning, and assessment. The office is also in
charge of investigating meteorological disasters, collecting
relevant information, and doing statistical analysis. The provin-
cial and local meteorological bureaus emergency offices do the
same work in their areas.
Meteorological Emergency Response Systems in
Laws and institutions are the key factors for disaster mitiga-
tion. The Meteorological Law of Peoples Republic of China was
promulgated on 1 January 2000 as the basic law for Chinese
Meteorological Emergency Response Systems. And the Emer-
Figure 1.
China’s mainly meteorological disasters (from Jiao, 2007).
*Short paper.
gency Response Law of the Peoples Republic of China came
into effect on 1 November 2007. CMA has made and revised 16
regulations, 4 national standards and over 40 industrial stan-
dards on meteorological emergency activities and other legal
documents according to the two key laws. Furthermore, the
local legislators and governments have issued over 70 bylaws
and regulations for meteorological disasters.
CMA makes it its top priority to develop meteorological
emergency response and plans. Chinese government published
National Overall Emergency Response Program for Emergent
Public Events. CMA has also issued an Emergency Response
Plan for Major Meteorological Disaster Early Warning and
Measures on Issuing Emergent Meteorological Disaster Early
Warning Signals and so on (Figure 2).
In addition, CMA organized and implemented lots of con-
tingency measures and plans for meteorological disasters in-
cluding Major Weather Disaster Warning Contingency Plan,
Significant Meteorological Disaster Information Submitting
Standard and Disposal Methods, Emergency Meteorological
Support and Services for Public Incidents (Trial Implementa-
tion), Survey and Evaluation Rule of Collection on Meteoro-
logical Disasters, Metropolises Disaster Monitoring and Weather
Forecasting Service Program, etc. Last but not least, CMA
strengthened safely measure such as China Meteorological
Administration Anti-terrorism and Plans for Handling Emer-
gency Situations.
Chinese provincial and local meteorological administrations
also have formulated emergent meteorological service measures
and plans for emergent public events including nuclear sub-
stance dispersion, leakage of hazardous chemicals, geological
disasters, and so on.
Case Studies
There are a lot of emergency cases concerning weather
emergency response in China, such as emergency severs for
typhoons, weather emergency response for Olympic torch as-
cent on Everest, etc. Here we only focus on two cases.
Emergency Meteorological Service of 2008 Olympics
Emergency Meteorological Service of 2008 Olympics refers
to the prompt response to heavy rain, hail, high winds during
the Olympic Games. For example, if hail, rain, and other emer-
gency weather events happened during the opening and closing
ceremonies, the CMA would use weather modification tech-
nology to alleviate the negative impact of those events on the
ceremonies. To ensure a smooth process of the opening and
closing ceremonies, CMA has established the Modification
Weather Operations Program for 2008 Olympic Games.
Emergency Meteorological Service of 2008 Olympics also
included emerge ncy resp onse act i ons f or po isonou s p olluti on (Wu
et al., 2009). Therefore, China Meteorological Administration
Figure 2.
Early WARNING SIGNALS of some meteorological disasters (from
website of CMA:
developed Olympic Environment Conditions Emergency Re-
sponse Plan and organized the environmental emergency re-
sponse. This is a successful case of meteorological emergency
China Southern Freezing Rain and Snow Disaster
Freezing rain and snow in southern China was the most seri-
ous emergency after the event of “SARS” in China. In January
2008, persistent freezing rain and snow disaster has struck and
severely affected most parts of southern China, including Hu-
nan, Hubei, Guizhou, Guangxi, Jiangxi, Anhui, and some other
provinces (Lin et al., 2009). At first, this was just a natural dis-
aster in the context of global climate change. However, the
heavy snow disrupted the normal operation of urban infrastruc-
ture, resulting in large-scale power outage in Guizhou, Hunan,
Jiangxi, and other places. Especially, the transportation railway
systems in Beijing-Guangzhou and Beijing-Zhuhai were
blocked and shut down. A number of urban water supply pipe-
lines were frost crack and communications were out of work.
On January 21, 2008, the Chinese State Council’s Emer-
gency Office issued emergency information in response to this
snowstorm. However, various departments took different re-
sponse measures in their sectors. At that time, it was important
to implement integrated decision-making. The snow and ice led
to wire disruption, which in turn led to lots of trains delay.
This disaster highlighted the vulnerability of the infrastruc-
ture in China South. A snow disaster led to north-south artery
interruption and poor communication. Especially, the traffic
information dissemination became fuzzy, which made the dis-
aster worse under the traffic chaos. For example, the travelers
who stood in temporary resettlement sites should have gotten
more detailed information and quick guidelines, but many trav-
elers had to go to the station for information about the latest
situation due to a lack of broadcasting in the station square.
Such operational malfunction in emergency response compli-
cated the natural disaster, with a technological disaster, and
enlarged the negative impact on social life.
However, many government branches in south China had no
sense of crisis (Sun, 2009) because such cold weather events
usually occur in north China. Therefore, these local govern-
ments seldom considered the impacts of strong snowstorm on
local production and people’s life. For instance, the majority of
thermal power plants in China have just 10 to 12 days invento-
ries as normal coal inventory, and 5 days as the warning line. In
the United States, by contrast, coal power inventories can
maintain at least 40 days, even surviving the general severe
weather events. In this regard, China’s disaster resilience is
pretty fragile in comparison with those in foreign countries.
The legal construction of emergency meteorological disaster
in Chinese mainland must consider the general principles of
legal construction as well as the following several important
Firstly, the meteorological emergency response and legal
system construction must be based on scientific principles. We
should take full advantage of meteorological science and tech-
nology. We should focus on disaster monitoring, and forecast-
ing (Wang et al., 2007).
Copyright © 2013 SciRe s.
Copyright © 2013 SciRe s . 103
Secondly, good preventive work can significantly reduce the
losses resulted from sudden weather disasters. And it will be
helpful in disaster mitigation, emergency response, and disaster
reconstruction. The ear ly-warning system should also be largely
improved (Li et al., 2009).
Thirdly, meteorological emergency response plans can be
controlled within 500 words or so, which should be easy for
people to grasp the key rules and be familiar with the specific
operations. Meteorological emergency response plans should
define basic preparation specifications, including structural
framework, reporting procedures, style formats, and relevant
annexes. In addition, meteorological emergency response plans
should include the knowledge of meteorological disaster pre-
vention, which should go “into the enterprise, into the rural area,
into school, and into the community”.
This work has been supported by National Natural Science
Foundation of China No. 41220001 (Z. H. Chen) and Urban
Meteorological Research Foundation of Beijing No.
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