Major Chinese cities issued heat advisories, with Beijing expected to hit over 36 degrees Celsius (97 F) on Monday, as China braces for another year of record-breaking temperatures that could threaten electricity supply, crops and a fragile economy.
China has already suffered from heatwaves in several parts of the country since March. Recently, Yunnan province was gripped with temperatures of more than 40 Celsius, which is especially burdensome for power grids as millions of homes begin to switch on air conditioners.
Over the past couple days, Shandong province and Beijing issued heat warnings. Populous cities such as Jinan, Tianjin and Zhengzhou are expected to see temperatures soar to as high as 37 degrees Celsius.
The China Meteorological Administration has warned regions to prepare for more extreme heat this year. Sporadic heatwaves are occurring ahead of the regular summer season – also particularly worrying for the agriculture sector.
Damaged crops 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 in the southwest, known historically for its mild weather, had only 35 millimeters of rain for the year to April 20, state broadcaster CCTV reported recently. Rainfall in the provincial capital Kunming was less than 8 mm, the lowest since records began.
Weather experts continually blame climate changes on global warming for recent harsh weather. The World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) latest assessment also predicts the strong likelihood of the El Niño weather phenomenon returning later this year.
“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.