The Yangtze is just one of many rivers and lakes across the northern hemisphere that are drying up and shrinking amid relentless heat and low rainfall
, including Lake Mead in the US and the Rhine River in Germany
. These extreme weather conditions have been supercharged by the human-induced climate crisis
, driven by burning fossil fuels
Communities often rely on these bodies of water for economic activity and governments are having to intervene with adaptation measures and relief funds, costing huge amounts of money.
China is deploying such funds and developing new supply sources to deal with the impacts on crops and livestock. Some livestock has been temporarily relocated to other regions, the Ministry of Finance said earlier this week, adding it would issue 300 million yuan ($ 44.30 milioni) in disaster relief.
To boost downstream supplies, the Three Gorges Dam, China’s biggest hydropower project, will also increase water discharges by 500 million cubic meters over the next 10 giorni, the Ministry of Water Resources said Tuesday.
The heat also forced authorities in the southwestern province of Sichuan — casa in giro 84 million people and a key manufacturing hub — to order the shutdown of all factories for six days this week to ease a power shortage.
‘Longest’ and ‘strongest’ heat wave on record
China issued its highest red alert heat warning for at least 138 cities and counties across the country on Wednesday, and another 373 were placed under the second-highest orange alert, the Meteorological Administration said.
Da lunedì, China’s heat wave had lasted 64 giorni, making it the longest in more than six decades, since full records began in 1961, the National Climate Center said in a statement. It also said it was the “più forte” on record and warned that it could worsen in the coming days.
“The heat wave this time is prolonged, wide in scope, and strong in extremity,” la dichiarazione letta. “Taken all signs together, the heat wave in China will continue and its intensity will increase.”
The heat wave has also registered the largest number of counties and cities exceeding 40 gradi centigradi (104 gradi Fahrenheit) since records began, secondo la dichiarazione. The number of weather stations recording temperatures of 40C and above has reached 262, also the highest. Eight have hit 44C.
Persistently high temperatures are forecast to continue in the Sichuan Basin and large parts of central China until August 26.
UN “special case” of high pressure from the West Pacific subtropical high, stretching across much of Asia, is likely to be the cause of the extreme heat, said Cai Wenju, climate researcher with CSIRO, Australia’s national scientific research institute.