Climate change leaves mark on Siberian ice sculptures

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The Independent Online

Chinese scientists have warned that climate change is hurting the most famous draw in the northern city of Harbin – its annual ice sculpture contest.

Average annual temperatures in the city, perched on the edge of Siberia, hit 6.6C last year – the highest average since records began – and the ice sculptures are feeling the heat.

"In the beginning of December 2002, ice lanterns in Harbin melted right after they were sculpted. What came out was sweaty ice sculptures," said Yin Xuemian, meteorologist at the Heilongjiang Observatory.

Problems got worse in 2006. "Lots of money and energy were spent redoing the sculptures. As the temperature rises, the period of ice and snow has shortened dramatically," he said.

Festival sculptors are facing a similar battle to keep their creations from melting this year. "We are worried that the thing will collapse, we tried to readjust a little bit," said one.