Chinese planes from Hong Kong are shooting rods into the sky to bring more rain to the crucial Yangtze River, which has dried up in places as parts of China face a drought during the worst heat wave on record.
Several regions of the Yangtze have launched climate modification programs, but with very thin cloud cover, operations in some drought-ravaged parts of the river basin remained on hold.
The Ministry of Water Resources said in a notice on Wednesday that the drought across the Yangtze River basin was “negatively affecting the safety of rural people’s drinking water and livestock, and the growth of crops.”
On Wednesday, central China’s Hubei province became the latest to announce that it “seeds clouds”, using silver iodide rods to induce rain.
The silver iodide rods — which are typically the size of cigarettes — are dropped into existing clouds to help form ice crystals. The crystals then help the cloud produce more rain, making its moisture content heavier and more likely to be released.
Cloud seeding has been in practice since the 1940s and China has the biggest program in the world. The country used seeding before the 2008 Beijing Olympics to ensure dry weather for the event, and the technique can also be used to induce snowfall or soften hail.
At least 4.2 million people in Hubei have been affected by a severe drought since June, the Hubei Provincial Emergency Management Department said on Tuesday.
More than 150,000 people have difficulties in accessing drinking water and almost 400,000 hectares of plantations have been damaged due to high temperatures and drought.
The Yangtze is just one of many northern hemisphere rivers and lakes that are drying up and shrinking amid relentless heat and low rainfall, including Lake Mead in the US and the Rhine River in Germany.
These extreme weather conditions have been burdened by the human-induced climate crisis driven by the burning of fossil fuels.
Communities often depend on these water bodies for economic activity and governments are having to intervene with adaptation measures and relief funds, costing huge amounts of money.
China is using these funds and developing new sources of supply to deal with impacts on crops and livestock.
Some animals have been temporarily transferred to other regions, the Ministry of Finance said earlier this week, adding that it would issue 300 million yuan in disaster relief.
To increase downstream supplies, the Three Gorges Dam, China’s largest hydropower project, will also increase water discharges by 500 million cubic meters in the next 10 days, the Ministry of Water Resources said on Tuesday.
The heat has also forced authorities in the country’s southwest Sichuan province, which is home to some 84 million people and a major production hub, to order the closure of all factories for six days this week to alleviate the lack of energy.
‘Longest’ and ‘Strongest’ Heat Wave Ever Recorded
China issued its highest red heat alert for at least 138 cities and counties across the country on Wednesday, and another 373 were placed under the second highest orange alert, the Meteorological Administration said.
On Monday, China’s heat wave lasted 64 days, making it the longest in more than six decades since full records began in 1961, the National Climate Center said in a statement. The agency also said it was the “strongest” on record and warned that it could get worse in the coming days.
“The heat wave this time is prolonged, broad and strong at the extremities,” the statement read. “Together all the signs, the heat wave in China will continue and its intensity will increase.”
The heat wave also saw the highest number of counties and cities above 40C since records began, according to the statement.
The number of weather stations recording temperatures above 40°C reached 262, also the highest. Eight stations reached 44ºC.
Persistently high temperatures are expected to continue in the Sichuan Basin and much of central China through August 26.
A “special case” of high pressure from the subtropical ridge of the Western Pacific, which stretches across much of Asia, is likely to be the cause of the extreme heat, said Cai Wenju, a climate researcher at CSIRO, Australia’s national scientific research institute.
Source: CNN Brasil
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