Authorities in China have recorded the country’s hottest August since records began, according to state media, following an unusually intense summer heatwave that parched rivers, scorched crops and triggered isolated blackouts. Southern China last month sweltered under what experts said may have been one of the worst heatwaves in global history, with temperatures in parts of Sichuan province and the megacity of Chongqing soaring well above 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) for days.
The average temperature nationwide was 22.4C in August, exceeding the norm by 1.2C, state broadcaster CCTV reported, citing the country’s weather service. Some 267 weather stations across the country matched or broke temperature records last month, it said. It was also China’s third-driest August on record, with average rainfall 23.1 percent lower than average. “The average number of high-temperature days was abnormally high, and regional high-temperature processes are continuing to impact our country,” CCTV reported the weather service as saying.
Scientists say extreme weather such as heatwaves, droughts and flash floods is becoming more frequent and intense due to human-induced climate change. In the month of July, temperatures as high as 45C prompted multiple Chinese provinces to impose power cuts as cities battled to cope with a surge in electricity demand partly driven by people cranking up the air conditioning. Chongqing and the eastern megacity of Shanghai, the country’s largest, switched off outdoor decorative lighting to mitigate the power crunch, while authorities in Sichuan imposed industrial power cuts as water levels dwindled at major hydroelectric plants. China, which began compiling information in 1961, also issued its first national drought alert of the year in August as the country battled forest fires and mobilised specialist teams to protect crops from scorching temperatures across the Yangtze River basin. Images from Chongqing showed a tributary of the mighty Yangtze River had almost run dry, a scene echoed further east where the waters of China’s largest freshwater lake also receded extensively.
The Economic Loss:
According to data from China’s emergency ministry, high temperatures in July alone caused direct economic losses of 2.73 billion yuan ($400m), affecting 5.5 million people. As local authorities warned that the drought posed a “severe threat” to this year’s harvest, the central government approved billions of yuan in subsidies to support rice farmers.