China hit by drought after record heat wave

A crippling drought, exacerbated by a record heat wave, has spread across half of China, reaching the normally frigid Tibetan plateau, according to official data released Thursday in the run-up to more scorching temperatures.

The world’s second-largest economy has experienced more than 70 days of heatwaves, flash floods and droughts — phenomena that scientists say are becoming more frequent and intense as a result of climate change.

Southern China has recorded the longest continuous period of high temperatures since measurements began more than 60 years ago, the agriculture ministry said this week.

Experts have said the intensity, extent and duration of the heat wave could make it one of the worst in world history.

A chart from the National Climate Center showed on Wednesday that parts of southern China — including the Tibetan Plateau — were experiencing “severe” to “extraordinary” drought conditions.

The worst affected area – the Yangtze River Basin, which stretches from the coast of Shanghai to Southwest China’s Sichuan Province – is home to more than 370 million people and contains several manufacturing centers, including the megacity of Chongqing.

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The China Meteorological Administration on Thursday forecast continued high temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in Chongqing and Sichuan and Zhejiang provinces.

But some regions received relief from the heat wave. Parts of southwestern Sichuan were ravaged overnight by torrential rains, forcing nearly 30,000 people to be evacuated, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

And in the southeast, Typhoon Ma-on made landfall in the coastal province of Guangdong and Hong Kong on Thursday morning.

“High temperatures have basically been reduced in the southern China, Jiangxi and Anhui regions,” the meteorological administration said.

“But high temperatures will persist in regions including the Sichuan Basin and the provinces around Shanghai for the next three days.”

– ‘Serious threat’ –

China’s State Council on Wednesday announced a 10 billion yuan ($1.45 billion) subsidy to support rice farmers facing drought, which authorities have warned pose a “serious threat” to this fall’s crop. year.

China produces more than 95 percent of the rice, wheat and maize it consumes, but a reduced harvest could lead to increased demand for imports in the world’s most populous country – putting even further pressure on global supplies ​due to the conflict in Ukraine.

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Wednesday’s CCTV evening news broadcast showed trucks supplying villagers who had no drinking water and farm water in rural Sichuan and Chongqing.

These regions have also been experiencing forest fires since last week, exacerbated by high temperatures and water scarcity.

Livestock farmers have done poorly, with Chongqing authorities promising emergency measures to protect pig farms and a Sichuan farmer’s tearful plea went viral after she said all her chickens had died as a result of the heat wave and power cuts.

Some Chongqing residents complained on social media of queuing for hours in the blistering heat for mandatory mass testing needed in the wake of a Covid outbreak.

In parts of Sichuan and Chongqing, residents seeking cooler temperatures have been sleeping in parking garages and subway stations because of daily power cuts.

Temperatures of up to 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit) have caused multiple Chinese provinces to impose industrial power cuts as cities struggle to cope with a surge in electricity demand.

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Record low water levels on the Yangtze River have also put pressure on the region’s hydroelectric power plants, with the National Energy Administration promising on Wednesday to make up for the shortfall by ramping up coal production.

The recent heat broke records in Sichuan, where a province recorded a temperature of 44 degrees Celsius (111 Fahrenheit) on Wednesday.


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