Scorching weather continues baking North China, as local governments ramp up efforts to ensure grain harvest
Published: Jul 18, 2023 09:32 PM
People take measures to protect themselves from the sun in Beijing on May 15, 2023. The temperature climbed to 34.4 C in the afternoon, and the Beijing meteorological observatory issued a blue warning for high temperatures. Photo: VCG

People take measures to protect themselves from the sun in Beijing on May 15, 2023. Photo: VCG

An extreme heatwave continues to engulf North China as a city in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region recorded a historical high temperature of 52.2 C. Meanwhile, temperatures in several cities in the autonomous region are expected to exceed 45 C in the following days. These rare but persistent stifling temperatures have led to severe droughts in many provinces, including major grain producing areas. 

Meteorological stations in Sanbao village in Turpan, Xinjiang, showed the temperature reached 52.2C on Sunday, smashing the historical record. On Sunday afternoon, land surface temperatures on the Mountain of Flames, or Huoyanshan, a famous tourist spot in Turpan, reached an eye-popping 80 C, media reported. 

"This is the highest temperature I've ever experienced in my life. It is such a marvelous experience," a tourist surnamed Luo said. 

Employees at the tourist spot offered popsicles and medicine to offer relief from the heat. The spot also offered outdoor coolers for travelers.

But for farmers the scorching heat is not so marvelous. 

Turpan has consistently topped the list of China's hottest cities in summer. Local authorities predicted weather in Turpan and several other Xinjiang cities will exceed 45 C for the remainder of the week. Moreover, temperatures in several places in neighboring Gansu Province have also exceeded 42 C in recent days.

North China's Hebei Province, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Gansu and other northern provinces have reported various degrees of drought, due to a lack of rainfall and persistent heatwaves. 

Ma Jun, director of the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, told the Global Times that since the heatwave arrived earlier than usual and has been more intense in North China, crop yields this year may face certain challenges. However, he said the lessons learned from the scorching heatwave in 2022 have allowed local governments to make abundant preparations in advance for such a scenario this year.

A total of 918,000 hectares of land has been affected by droughts in Inner Mongolia, according to media reports. Among the measures to relieve the impact of droughts on food production, the regional government has doled out 300 million yuan ($41 million) to help farmers store water and irrigate crops.

Hebei, which has been baked by a rare heatwave and experienced the lowest precipitation in six decades, is ramping up efforts to save its drying land. Data from the government shows that the province has provided nearly 400 million cubic meters of water to middle and large scale irrigated areas, and diverted 100 million cubic meters of water from the Yellow River. These efforts have helped irrigate more than 1.33 million hectares of land. 

South China was hit by floods in recent days. However, officials in some provinces are also warning the public of the looming danger of severe drought.

"The weather in Chongqing this summer is bizarre. The municipality experienced severe flood before and is expected to suffer from drought after the flood recedes," an employee from Chongqing's water resources authority told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

Apart from closely monitoring the drought, the official said his department has called for the public to use water rationally in addition to drawing up an emergency plan for coping with drought. 

Farmers in Meishan, Southwest China's Sichuan Province, begged the local meteorological bureau to implement cloud seeding measures in early July as the severe drought had severely damaged their crops, according to media reports. 

China has seen another year with a bumper summer grain harvest despite the impact of adverse weather, official data showed Saturday.

The country's summer grain output totaled 146.13 million tons this year, down 0.9 percent or 1.27 million tons year on year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

"The bumper harvest of summer grain will lay a solid foundation for stabilizing annual grain production, and provide strong support for promoting sustained economic recovery," said Wang Guirong, an official with the bureau.