Heat wave strikes most parts of China as El Niño approaches
People at a park in Beijing amid the heat wave on May 16, 2023. /CFP
People at a park in Beijing amid the heat wave on May 16, 2023. /CFP

People at a park in Beijing amid the heat wave on May 16, 2023. /CFP

The first round of heat waves recently hit the northern parts of China. On May 15, provinces such as Hebei and Shandong, saw temperatures rise above 37 Celsius. Still, cities like Beijing and Jinan, issued heat warnings. The heat in northern China followed record-high temperatures in the southern provinces of Hainan and Yunnan and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

The southern parts of China are currently experiencing heavy rainfall. According to the Ministry of Water Resources, 21 rivers in Jiangxi and Fujian provinces have been flooded by heavy rainfall since May 5. The Central Meteorological Station predicts that the precipitation will decrease on Thursday. But the public should still exercise caution due to the heavy rain on Wednesday. 

This summer's temperatures were expected to be near or above the average of previous years in most parts of the country, Gao Hui, chief forecaster at the National Climate Center (NCC), said on Monday. 

Extreme heat can lead to drought. The NCC predicts that the overall scope of droughts this year is also weaker than last year's. However, in some areas, including the middle reaches of the Yangtze River, there is a greater possibility of persistent drought with the high temperature after the end of the rainy season, as a sharp increase in evaporation could lead to periodic droughts.

On May 3, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said the possibility of El Niño happening in the second half of this year is increasing.

A climate phenomenon that starts with unusually warm surface seawater in the Pacific Ocean, El Niño causes extreme heat with drought. According to the WMO, it occurs on average every two to seven years.

According to the NCC, based on the current climate change research, 2023 or 2024 will very likely set a record for the warmest year globally.

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