Heat wave reduces the flow of China’s longest river and threatens crops

A boat sails down the Yangtze River near Badong, Hubei province (Reuters)
A boat sails down the Yangtze River near Badong, Hubei province (Reuters)

The regions that depend on Yangtze, the longest river in Chinaare being forced to deploy water bombs and “cloud seeding” rockets in the face of the effects of a long drought that is depleting water levels and threatening cropswith the heat wave expected to last another two weeks.

In the past month, the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze have faced temperatures above 40 degrees Celsiussomething that experts attribute to climate change-induced variations in the subtropical ridge of the western Pacific, one of the main determinants of summer weather in all of East Asia.

Before the threat to fall harvestthe Chinese Ministry of Agriculture has deployed 25 teams to key regions to take crop protection measures, the newspaper reported. Guangming Daily of the Shanghai government.

The heat wave is likely to last for another two weeks, becoming the longest period of extreme temperatures since records began in 1961experts from China’s National Climate Center told the official Science and Technology Daily on Monday.

The Rainfall in the Yangtze River drainage network fell 30% in July and is 60% below normal in Augustwith the river’s tributaries “significantly lower” than historical levels, according to the Yangtze River Water Resources Commission.

Worker at an ice factory in Shanghai (Reuters)
Worker at an ice factory in Shanghai (Reuters)

Villages dependent on water from the lake have been forced to use pumps to irrigate rice fields, according to media reports, while rockets have been used in Chongqing municipality to attempt to “seed” clouds and induce rainreported the media.

Other regions have launched their own weather modification operations.

China usually releases water from the Three Gorges Reservoir to relieve drought in the Yangtze, but downstream flows are half of a year earlier, according to official data.

Extreme temperatures

The notice issued this Monday marks the 26th consecutive day of alert for high temperatures in the Asian countrywhich has alarmed some experts: “This heat wave is the most intense and longest since official records began in 1961″, he explained to the newspaper Global Times China Meteorological Administration researcher Sun Shao.

Sun stated that the extension of this wave has already exceeded that experienced by the country in 2013, which lasted for 62 days. In addition, this year’s “started earlier” than 2013, explained Sun, who warned that the heat could last another week.


These periods of intense heat could become the “new normal” in the Asian country under “the effect of climate change”, according to the expert quoted in local media Chen Lijuan, from the National Climate Center, who added: “High temperatures start earlier, end later and last longer. This will become more and more obvious in the future”.

The heat also brings with it an increase in electricity demand: the Shanghai megalopolis, which has experienced record temperatures in recent weeks, registered a year-on-year growth of 38.41% in July and 40.2% in the first week of August in electricity sales to customers.

There are already some energy restrictions in the provinces hardest hit by mercury, such as Zhejiang (east), where the use of energy in certain industries and air conditioning in movie theaters has been limited, according to local media.

Last year, when the central province of Henan recorded rainfall of unprecedented intensity in decades and caused the death of more than 300 people, local experts already pointed out the effect of climate change.

Song Lianchun, a meteorologist at the National Meteorological Center, stated then: “We cannot say that an extreme weather event is directly caused by climate change, but in the long term, global warming causes an increase in the intensity and frequency of such events. ”.

(With information from Reuters and EFE)


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