Regions reliant on China’s biggest river, the Yangtze, are being forced to deploy pumps and cloud-seeding rockets as a severe drought depletes water levels and threatens harvests, while a heatwave is expected to endure another two weeks.
Over the past month, temperatures along the Yangtze’s middle and lower reaches have exceeded 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), with experts blaming climate change-induced changes in the western Pacific subtropical high, a major regulator of summer weather throughout east Asia.
With the autumn harvest under jeopardy, the agriculture ministry has dispatched 25 teams to crucial regions to protect crops, according to the Shanghai government’s Guangming Daily newspaper.
Official Science and Technology Daily showed that, the heatwave is expected to endure another two weeks, making it the longest persistent period of severe temperatures since records began in 1961.
According to the Yangtze River Water Resources Commission, rainfall in the Yangtze River drainage basin decreased roughly 30% in July and is 60% lower than average in August, with the river’s tributaries “significantly lower” than historical levels.
After a 50% decrease in rain in July, the Poyang lake in central China’s Jiangxi province, which plays an important role in managing Yangtze water flows in the summer, has fallen to levels generally observed during the winter dry season.
According to media reports, villages that rely on lake water have been forced to install pumps to irrigate rice fields.
Chongqing, a huge southwestern municipality experiencing its second warmest summer since records began in 1961, has made 900 missiles accessible to try to “seed” clouds and induce rain, according to media reports.
Other regions have begun their own weather modification efforts.
China regularly releases water from the Three Gorges reservoir to relieve Yangtze River drought, but downstream outflows are half what they were a year ago, according to government data.