China has issued its first national drought warning of the year as authorities scramble to deal with wildfires and mobilize experts to protect crops from extreme temperatures along the Yangtze River.
The “yellow alert” was issued late Thursday night after weeks of extreme temperatures have been recorded in many regions, from Sichuan in the southwest to Shanghai in the Yangtze Delta. Chinese authorities attribute the phenomena to climate change.
Poyang Lake in central Jiangxi province has shrunk to a quarter of its normal size for this time of year, state-run Xinhua news agency reported yesterday.
At least 66 rivers in 34 districts in the southwestern province of Chongqing have dried up, according to Chinese state television CCTV.
This year’s rainfall in Chongqing was 60 percent less than usual, the same source added.
In Beibei County, north of the urban center of Chongqing, the temperature reached 45 degrees Celsius on Thursday, according to the China Meteorological Service.
In addition, six of the 10 highest temperatures were recorded in this province this morning, with the thermometer in Bishan district already approaching 39 degrees. In Shanghai, the temperature on Friday morning had reached 37 degrees.
Chongqing province’s infrastructure and emergency services are under strain, with firefighters on high alert as fires have broken out in various mountainous and forested areas. Also, the state media reported that increased cases of heat stroke among residents are being recorded.
The province’s agriculture department has set up specialist teams to protect the most vulnerable crops and expand harvests to replace losses expected to be caused by the heat wave.
Meanwhile the National Meteorological Center of China (NMC) has renewed its red warning for particularly high temperatures today. This is the 30th consecutive day it has issued this warning. According to forecasts, the current heat wave will begin to recede from August 26.
The weather service said in its daily bulletin that last month temperatures reached or exceeded 35 degrees Celsius across an area of 4.5 million square kilometers, nearly half the size of China, with more than 200 weather stations recording record temperatures.