Chinese cities turn air-raid shelters into ‘heat’ shelters
Published: Jul 13, 2023 11:10 PM
A couple walks in an air raid shelter used as public cooling center in Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province on July 13, 2023. Photo: VCG

A couple walks in an air raid shelter used as public cooling center in Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province on July 13, 2023. Photo: VCG

Many cities in China have been opening air-raid shelters for local residents to escape heat waves in some areas which have seen temperatures soaring past 40 C, leading to chickens and pigs in farms perishing from the heat. 

Temperatures inside some shelters are about 10 C lower than outside, making them attractive places for students to study or play chess and some residents to play ping-pong or read free books, media reports said. 

Two shelters in Central China's Wuhan, Hubei Province will operate for 12 hours each day until September. Six air raid shelters, able to accommodate up to 2,000 people, in Hangzhou, the capital city of East China's Zhejiang Province, have been equipped with free wifi, drinks and heatstroke medicines residents. Hangzhou has also designated specific areas within seven subway lines as rest areas where chairs are provided for passengers to cool off, reported.

Besides Wuhan and Hangzhou, air raid shelters used as public cooling centers can also seen in Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, and Nanjing, capital city of Jiangsu Province.

Large parts of China have been experiencing unusual heat this year. As of Tuesday, the National Meteorological Center has issued 43 high temperature warnings this year, including 27 yellow warnings and 16 orange warnings. The national average precipitation is 233.4 millimeters, 11.2 percent less than the same period in 2022, the People's Daily reported Gao Hui, a chief forecaster at the National Climate Center, as saying.

Several animal tragedies have been attributed to the scorching heat. A late-night power outage in Harbin, Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, led to the death of 462 pigs at a hog farm due to sustained elevated temperatures. Previously, a chicken farm in Suizhou, Central China's Hubei Province, failed to issue an alarm in time due to a faulty alarm line linked to a fan, causing more than 4,000 chickens to perish from the heat. 

Persistent heat waves have led to a surge in electricity demand and resulted in a major power plant setting a new record for electricity production. The integrated load of the entire network of the China Southern Power Grid, which provides power to five provinces, reached 227 million kilowatts on Tuesday, setting a record high, according to 

El Nino comes with an increase in sea temperatures in the tropical Pacific, resulting in changes in atmospheric circulation patterns, which in turn affect climate and weather patterns worldwide, Sun Shao, a senior researcher at Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, told the Global Times on Thursday. About 90 percent of the impacts of El Nino from July to September will likely prevail until the end of 2023, according to the World Meteorological Organization citing model predictions and expert assessments.

But El Nino is only a part of the factors affecting the climate anomaly in China, global warming has increased the frequency and intensity of extreme weather and green house emissions have also driven climate change. Besides that, geographic locations, topography, urbanization in cities are other factors creating heat waves, Sun noted. 

In the next 10 days, high temperatures reaching 35 C or higher are expected in southern Jiangnan, the Xinjiang Basin, Hexi region of Gansu Province, and western Inner Mongolia. Some areas may even reach temperatures of 38 to 40 C, while local regions in the Xinjiang Basin and western Inner Mongolia could experience maximum temperatures as high as 41 to 42 C, according to Sun.

July has seen the 10 hottest days ever recorded as heat waves spread globally. The average global temperature breached 17C for the first time July 3 and remained above that level into this week, according to data from the US National Centers for Environmental Prediction, Bloomberg reported.