China Extreme Weather Highlights Climate Change Impacts and Need for Early Warnings!
Climate change has already brought serious adverse impacts to China’s natural ecological system and has continued to spread and penetrate into economy and society.
The summer of extremes – in China as in Europe – has underlined the importance of the WMO community’s commitment to Early Warning and Early Action and reinforced the need for the ongoing campaign to provide Early Warnings for all in the next five years.
The high sociology-economy and environmental cost of the extreme weather has also highlighted the vulnerability of the world’s most populous nation to climate change impacts and the need for urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
China Heat Wave
In terms of the intensity, impacts, scale, and duration, the regional heat wave in southern China which started 13 June was the strongest since complete meteorological observation records started in 1961, according to the China Meteorological Administration.
By 15 August, the heat wave broke the 2013 record of 62 days. National Meteorological Center (NMC) of China has issued 30 Red high temperature red warnings. Official climate forecasters predict the current heat wave will only begin to subside on August 26.
More than 200 national observatories broke through the historical extreme value of the highest temperature.
Some 1 680 meteorological observatories have had of above 35℃ – covering an area of 4.5 million square kilometers in China or almost half of the country’s total land area. The incidence of temperatures of above 40℃ has been the largest on record.
A total of 914 national meteorological observatories (accounting for 37.7 percent of the total number of national meteorological observatories in China) have reached the standard for extreme heat wave events, and 262 of them in Hebei, Shaanxi, Sichuan, Hubei, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong, Qinghai and other places equaled or exceeded the historical maximum temperature records.
Since 1 July, most of the provinces and cities along the Yangtze River have experienced low precipitation and long-lasting high temperatures. In some places, precipitation is more than 80% lower than normal, reaching moderate to severe meteorological drought and a high risk of forest fires.
According to data released by China’s Ministry of Emergency Management, the drought disaster alone in July affected 5.527 million people and caused a direct economic loss of 2.73 billion Chinese Yuan.
The Ministry of Water Resources of China has launched an emergency response to drought prevention, implemented the “Special Action for Joint Operation of Reservoir Groups in the Yangtze River Basin to Fight Drought and Ensure Water Supply” and increases the outflow of reservoirs to replenish water downstream.
The National Meteorological Centre and Beijing Climate Centre released an orange warning of meteorological drought on 22 August and CMA activated
China Forest Fires
On 22 August, three government departments (the Ministry of Emergency Management, the State Forestry and Grassland Administration, and the China Meteorological Administration) jointly issued the first red color warning of high forest fire danger this year.
It is expected that from August 23 to 25, the forest fire danger level in parts of central and southern Chongqing and eastern Sichuan will reach an extremely dangerous level. Strict precautions should be taken, and fire source management should be strengthened to ensure the safety of forest areas.
Experts suggest that local governments should strengthen the management and control of fire sources in forest areas, strictly prohibit the use of fire in forest areas, issue early warning information in a timely manner, strengthen fire prevention popularization, and raise public awareness of fire prevention.
China Rainfall and Floods
In contrast with southern China, large parts of the North have witnessed unusually heavy rainfall.
In July, there were six regional heavy rain events in China, four of which occurred in the North (1.4 more than the same period of the previous year). The daily precipitation of 30 national weather stations exceeded the extreme value in July.
In July, flood disasters occurred in North China (mostly in Heilongjiang and Liaoning Provinces) and West China (mostly in Sichuan and Gansu Provinces). On 18 August, a mountain torrent in Datong Hui and Tu Autonomous County, Xining City, Qinghai Province, caused many casualties.
The National Meteorological Centre forecasts that a new round of rainfall process will batter northern China from 21 to 23 August..
A Must for Early warning and Early Action
On 19 August the China Meteorological Administration convened a special meeting to discuss the provision of meteorological services for flood control, disaster relief and drought management.
Zhuang Guotai, the administrator of the China Meteorological Administration, emphasized the importance of the principle of people first and life first in flood control and drought relief meteorological services.
The meeting outlined three key priorities:
- Enhancing meteorological monitoring, forecasting and early warning in a timely manner in order to prevent sudden and local meteorological disasters, and to provide drought-relief meteorological services to local governments.
- To strengthen the early warning and early action by mobilizing responsible government departments and emergency response officers and providing impact-based decision-making support for disaster prevention and mitigation.
- To increase public risk prevention awareness and skills and disaster preparedness.
China Climate Policy
Extreme weather events have strengthened public awareness of climate change and support for government measures and strategies to address climate change.
In June 2022, the Chinese government released a new policy document to improve its response to climate change, which it said was not only creating long-term challenges but also made the country more vulnerable to “sudden and extreme” events.
“Climate change has already brought serious adverse impacts to China’s natural ecological system, and has continued to spread into economy and society,” the government said in its national climate change adaptation strategy.
The new policy document updates China’s National Strategy for Climate Change Adaptation, published in November 2013.
China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment approved the National Strategy on Climate Adaptation 2035 in February 2022. A separate implementation plan is expected to complement the strategy. All sectors and localities are encouraged to formulate their own adaptation plans.
China’s economy and society are at increasing risk from climate change and the country needs to improve adaptation mechanisms and monitoring capabilities at every level of government, according to a new policy document.
China is grappling with extreme weather emergencies across the country, with the worst flooding in decades submerging houses and cars in the south and record-high heat waves in the northern and central provinces causing roads to buckle.
The flooding has disrupted the lives of almost half a million people in southern China.
Large swathes of crops including paddy have been destroyed by heavy floods in China, leading to further challenges to food security.
The authorities have warned of more rains in the coming days. A CNN report said that more than 2,700 houses have collapsed or suffered severe damage, and 96,160 hectares of crops have been destroyed — heavy losses for a province that serves as a major rice-producing hub for China.
It added that direct economic losses are estimated at about $600 million.
Fire engulfed a skyscraper in the central Chinese city of Changsha, with authorities saying that no casualties had yet been found.
The blaze broke out in a 42-floor building housing an office of the state-owned telecommunications company China Telecom, according to the state broadcaster CCTV.
“Thick smoke billowed from the site, and dozens of floors burned ferociously,” CCTV reported.
Nearly 39.14 million people were affected by natural disasters during the period, with 178 dead or missing and 1.28 million residents relocated.
China Extreme Weather
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