Global warming key reason behind extreme heat in North China

The majority of the region has suffered many hot days of temperature above 40 degrees Celsius in June and July.


People visit the Qianmen street in Beijing, capital of China, July 6, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

July 10, 2023

BEIJING – The global warming has been the major force behind the extreme hot weather in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region recently, although some other factors also added fuel, according to an expert on atmospheric physics.

The majority of this region has suffered many hot days of temperature above 40 degrees Celsius in June and July. Beijing issued a red alert for high temperatures on Thursday, the highest in a color-coded alert system, as temperatures in most parts of the city rose above 40 C.

The World Meteorological Organization warned on Tuesday that temperatures are expected to soar further across large parts of the world after the El Nino weather pattern emerged in the tropical Pacific for the first time in seven years.

“The onset of El Nino will greatly increase the likelihood of breaking temperature records and triggering more extreme heat in many parts of the world and in the ocean,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said in a statement.

Wei Ke, an associate researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Atmospheric Physics, said the reason for the hot weather in the region was quite complex, but it was mainly due to global warming.

El Nino, a warming of water surface temperatures in the eastern and central Pacific Ocean, is linked to extreme weather conditions from tropical cyclones to heavy rainfall to severe droughts. The phenomenon occurs on average every two to seven years, and can last nine to 12 months, according to the WMO.

Wei said that El Nino tends to cause drought in North China, which could be said to have a “weak correlation” with high temperatures, but it only provides a “small disturbance” to this round of heatwave in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.

The statistics showed that there have been no significant high temperature anomalies in Beijing in the past El Nino years, he said. Therefore, El Nino should be considered as adding fuel to the high temperatures in Beijing and other places, and the root cause is still global warming.

He said this summer is not only hot in northern China, but also in the world. In June this year, temperatures in many countries such as Mexico, Pakistan, and Iran exceeded 45 C. On June 21, the highest temperature in Zabol, Iran, reached 50.8 C.

He said the repeated occurrence of extreme high temperatures in various regions may be just a prelude to the manifestation of global warming, and in the future only temperatures above 45 C can be considered high.

Wei said human has fully entered a new stage of frequent disasters.

According to the Human Cost of Disasters 2000-19 report, there were 432 instances of extreme heat events globally between 2000 and 2019 compared with just 130 instances between 1980 and 1999, an increase of a whopping 232 percent. There has been a 134 percent increase in flood-related disasters, 97 percent increase in storms, 46 percent increase in wildfires, and 29 percent increase in droughts or drought-like conditions.

Wei has repeatedly mentioned the concept of the “critical point” of the climate system. If human activities did not change, the global temperature will rise over 4 C by 2100. When the temperature passes the “critical point”, the livability of the Earth will be completely altered.

Whether it will get hotter after the Minor Heat that begins on July 7 this year? Wei said that northern China will enter the rainy season and the temperature may drop when it has more rains, while the southern China’s rainy season is over and temperatures may rise.

Wei said that in response to extreme weather, governments at all levels should pay more attention to the vulnerable groups, such as outdoor workers, and provide public heat shelters, especially during high-temperature orange and red warning periods.

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