Searing heat in north China

People in north China have experienced an unusually hot Dragon Boat Festival (8-10 June), and the extreme weather is continuing. 

Since 8 June, daily temperatures in a large part of the region have reached or exceeded 35C. The heatwave is expected to last at least six days, with 10-13 June the hottest period, according to the China Meteorological Administration (CMA).

The CMA forecast that around 700,000 square kilometres would experience daily temperatures of 35C, almost three times the area of the United Kingdom. Temperatures in some places may break records.

“This high temperature process has been the strongest [in north China] since the beginning of this year, and characterised by its wide range, strong intensity and long duration,” said Zhai Yu, a Weather China analyst, as reported by The Paper.

Hebei is the hottest province, with daily temperatures in places reaching 43C. Several cities have issued the highest level of heatstroke-risk warnings. At 1pm on 11 June, eight weather stations in Hebei all exceeded 40C, Caixin reported. 

Extreme heat affects farming as well as health. On 11 June, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs and the CMA jointly issued an “agricultural high temperature and drought risk warning”, cautioning that seeding of corn and soybean could be delayed due to dry soil.

Before the hot summer, China had experienced an abnormally warm spring. The average temperature across the country in March to May was “1.4C higher than the same period in previous years, the highest since 1961,” according to data from the National Climate Centre, as reported by Upstream News.

Zheng Zhihai, chief forecaster at the National Climate Centre, believes that north China’s June heatwave is directly caused by global warming. 

China is not the only country experiencing unbearable heat. The Philippines, Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries were badly affected in April. In India, at least 100 people died of extreme heat across the country in just three days from 30 May to 1 June, Dialogue Earth reported.

The World Meterological Organization reported this month that there is an 80% likelihood that in at least one of the next five years the annual average global temperature will temporarily exceed 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

Read Dialogue Earth’s recent Q&A with Bangladesh’s chief heat officer.