May 16, 2023
BEIJING – Most regions of China are forecast to experience their first heat wave of the year this week, with maximum temperatures soaring to 37 C in some areas, the China Meteorological Administration said on Monday.
An El Nino system is building along the equator in the eastern Pacific Ocean, which could send global average temperatures soaring to a record high this year or in 2024, the CMA said.
Several regions, including Beijing and Tianjin municipalities, Hebei and Henan provinces and the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, are expected to see temperatures rising above 35 C on Tuesday and Wednesday. Northern parts of Shandong province are forecast to experience temperatures around 37 C, according to weather forecasters.
Large parts of the country have seen a rapid increase in their maximum temperatures, with Jinan in Shandong province and Xingtai in Hebei province hitting 37 C and Beijing hitting 35 C on Monday.
The Shandong provincial meteorological service issued a yellow alert for high temperatures, the lowest in the three-tier warning system, at 6 am on Monday. In the cities of Jinan, Dongying and Zibo, temperatures are expected to touch 37 C on Tuesday, the meteorological service said.
In a news release on May 3, the World Meteorological Organization had said the likelihood of an El Nino occurring in the second half of the year is increasing, and the event would fuel high temperatures globally.
El Nino is a naturally occurring climate phenomenon that starts with unusually warm surface water in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, which then changes weather worldwide. It occurs on average every two to seven years, and one episode typically lasts nine to 12 months, the WMO said.
Zhou Bing, chief expert at the National Climate Center, said: “The appearance of an El Nino will inevitably cause abnormal weather and climate events in regions, or globally. … The last super El Nino occurred from autumn 2014 to spring 2016, during which temperatures were the warmest since 1850.”
A strong El Nino may increase precipitation in the Yangtze River Basin, which in turn will increase the chances of a warm winter, Zhou added.
Various analyses suggest that 2023 or 2024 will very likely set a record for the warmest year globally, the National Climate Center said.
Surface water in the eastern Pacific is rapidly warming up, and a persistent warm water situation can lead to longer periods of abnormal climate, it said. Some countries around the tropical Pacific, including those in North America, East Asia and South Asia, will be the first to be affected by an El Nino, it added.