Wildfire. Free public domain CC0 image.

On Tuesday, the southwestern Chinese regions of Chonqing and Sichuan were battling flames as they awaited a long-anticipated dip in temperatures over the next week, but the country’s critical autumn harvest remained in jeopardy.

This month, officials warned that China’s temperatures were rising faster than the rest of the world, and a record-breaking heatwave has sparked concerns about the country’s ability to adapt to rapid climate change while conserving already scant water supplies.

According to state broadcaster CCTV, satellite photographs showed Poyang Lake, which normally takes in floodwaters from the Yangtze River during the summer, at a fraction of its normal size for the time of year, decreasing drinking water supplies for adjacent cities.

According to the broadcaster, water from the Three Gorges and Danjiangkou reservoirs has already been released to alleviate downstream shortages.

The drought posed a “severe threat” to China’s autumn crops, according to the ministry of agriculture, who added that authorities had been directed to do everything possible to increase water supplies and protect the harvest. more info

Farmers who have suffered serious crop loss will be encouraged to replant, and cloud-seeding rockets will be made accessible wherever possible, according to the ministry.

The heatwave, which has lasted more than two months, was about to reach a “turning point” according to state forecasters, with a cold front approaching from the west and a typhoon approaching from the southeast.

Nonetheless, severe power shortages persisted throughout the region, with the Sichuan capital of Chengdu turning off the lights on its subway trains to save energy.

High temperatures increased air conditioner use to roughly one-third of the province’s total power load, while low water levels reduced hydropower generation by half.

Despite the power shortage, which has caused industrial usage to be curtailed, ANZ economists said in a note that a repeat of last year’s nationwide energy shortage, caused by tight coal supplies, was unlikely.

According to ANZ, the impact on GDP is “negligible” for the time being.

Sichuan normally delivers massive amounts of hydroelectric power to the east coast via the power grid, so coal-fired power plants elsewhere have had to pick up the slack.

According to CCTV, coal plants in the central province of Anhui were operating at full capacity and producing 12% more electricity than usual to meet demand from the east.

FORECAST OF COOLING

Though a heat “red alert” is still in effect for the 12th day, temperatures are expected to fall in central regions by Wednesday, and in Sichuan and Chongqing beginning August 29, according to the National Meteorological Center’s Weibo channel.

Heavy rain could fall in hilly western Sichuan on August 27-28, increasing the risk of flooding and landslides, according to media reports citing the Sichuan Hydrological and Water Resources Survey Center. Authorities should take advantage of the chance to store as much water as possible, according to the report.

Authorities also issued a fire “red alert” warning that the situation in forested parts of central and southern Chongqing and eastern Sichuan was “extremely dangerous” according to the official China News Service.

According to financial news agency Caixin, Chongqing and Sichuan, where rainfall has been 80% less than normal, have had to deal with as many as 19 wildfires since Aug. 14.

Although no deaths or injuries have been reported, authorities in Chongqing have been compelled to relocate 1,500 residents due to the fire risk.

The provinces of Jiangxi, Hunan, and Guizhou have all been placed on high alert for forest and grassland fires, according to the Ministry of Emergency Management.

The ministry stated that it has sent over 2,800 state-level firefighters to Chongqing and Sichuan to assist.

Source: AP News

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here