Chinese cities broil in heat, brace for more record temperatures

China has suffered from heat waves in several regions since March. Yunnan province in the southwest recently suffered temperatures of more than 40 Celsius

Published : 15 May 2023, 09:12 AM
Updated : 15 May 2023, 09:12 AM

Major Chinese cities have issued heat advisories, with Beijing expected to swelter in 36 Celsius (97 Fahrenheit) temperatures on Monday, as China braces for record-breaking heat that could threaten electricity supply, crops and a fragile economy.

China has suffered from heat waves in several regions since March. Yunnan province in the southwest, which is known for its mild weather, recently suffered temperatures of more than 40 Celsius, putting a huge burden on the power grid as millions of homes switched on air conditioners.

The eastern province Shandong and the capital Beijing have issued heat warnings while Jinan and Tianjin in the north and centrally located Zhengzhou, are expected to see temperatures soar to as high as 37C.

The heat waves are occurring ahead of the regular summer season, which is particularly worrying for agriculture.

Crop damage could drive up food prices, exacerbate inflation and put pressure on China's economy as it tries to rebound from a three-year zero-COVID policy that stunted growth.

Yunnan had only 35 millimetres of rain for the year to April 20, state broadcaster CCTV reported recently with rainfall in the provincial capital of Kunming less than 8 mm, the lowest since records began.

The heat could again put pressure on water reserves. Last year, a two-month stretch of record-breaking temperatures caused major rivers and waterways to dry up, severely impacting the Yangtze River.

The government's National Fire and Rescue Bureau held a conference on Sunday to look at drought emergencies.

Weather experts point to global warming for the extreme weather.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in its latest assessment has assessed a strong likelihood of the El Niño weather phenomenon returning later this year, which would likely add to the heat.

"The development of an El Niño will most likely lead to a new spike in global heating and increase the chance of breaking temperature records," said WMO Secretary-General Petri Taalas.