High temperature expected in southern parts but prolonged extreme heat wave less likely to happen in China this summer: meteorologists
Published: Jun 04, 2024 11:22 PM
People cool off themselves during a heat wave in a canal in Lahore, Pakistan on June 2, 2024. (Photo: Xinhua)

People cool off themselves during a heat wave in a canal in Lahore, Pakistan on June 2, 2024. (Photo: Xinhua)

As an extreme heat wave is gripping parts of South Asia since mid-May, the past week became the most brutal period with the mercury soaring to 50 C in some parts of India and Pakistan and resulting in multiple deaths, stirring a public concern over whether China will bake under a blistering heat wave this summer. 

Analysis from the US National Centers for Environmental Information shows that the first four months of 2024 were the warmest in 175 years from the global sphere and this year will be expected to rank among the top five hottest on record and has a 61 percent chance of knocking 2023 off the top spot, according to a Bloomberg report.

In India, the countrywide toll of suspected heatstroke deaths has touched 219 as of Tuesday, as reported by the Times of India.

In Jacobabad, a city in southern Pakistan, long regarded as one of the hottest places on earth, the temperature soared as high as 52 C on Sunday, with highs of 51 each of the following three days. 

In regards with the extreme heat that Pakistan and neighboring India have been experiencing, Ren Guoyu, a research fellow from China's National Climate Center (NCC), believed that despite the high temperatures recorded in India seeming quite unbelievable to many people in China, it is noteworthy that the abnormally extreme high temperatures were only recorded at a few individual sites across India. 

Compared with the records in history, the high temperatures reported recently are not particularly extreme for India or the South Asian region as a whole, he told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

According to Ren, the South Asian region experiences a typical tropical monsoon climate. Every year between March and May, it is a traditional drought season in India with a dry and hot climate. During the pre-monsoon period between May and early June, India is usually hit by heat waves. 

In terms of whether China will experience extreme heat waves during this summer, Zheng Zhihai, chief forecaster at the NCC, told the Global Times on Tuesday that it is expected that the temperatures in most parts of the country during this summer will be higher than usual and the number of high temperature days will also be greater than usual. 

In particular, places such as North China, the northern and southern parts of East China, the southern part of Central China, South China and Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region may experience periodic heat waves with some regions being expected to suffer from extreme high temperatures, Zheng said. 

According to Zheng, the most direct cause of high temperatures is abnormal atmospheric circulation, which is related to the El Nino phenomenon. The high temperatures in the southern parts of the country resulted from El Nino, which is conducive to the strengthening of the subtropical high pressure. Areas under the control of subtropical high pressure will experience higher temperature. 

Generally speaking, subtropical high pressure is relatively strong this year and it currently remains mainly in the southern area (South Asia), and in the near future, the subtropical high will affect China's Jiangnan area and South China, Zheng said, noting that a prolonged period of extreme heat similar to the summer of 2022 will be less likely this year.

A latest update from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released on Monday said that the 2023/24 El Nino event, which helped fuel a spike in global temperatures and extreme weather around the world, is now showing signs of ending. There is likely to be a swing back to La Nina conditions later this year.

However, the end of El Nino does not mean a pause in long-term climate change, the WMO said, noting that the past nine years have been the warmest on record even with the cooling influence of a multi-year La Nina from 2020 to early 2023.