People enjoy a foam fight at a water park to escape the heat in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, on Sunday. (PHOTO/CHINA NEWS SERVICE)
Such frequency of high temperatures in North China 'extremely rare'
The country's average number of days with high temperatures in the first half of this year outpaced the same period in all other years since 1961, with 100 national meteorological stations registering temperatures of record highs, according to the National Climate Center.
The heat waves this year have come earlier, have been more widespread and are abnormally extreme, the center said in a media release on Sunday.
During the first six months of the year, the country on average experienced 4.1 high-temperature days, which are defined as those with temperatures at or above 35 C, higher than the yearly average of 2.2 days, the center noted.
Some areas even saw more than 10 high-temperature days during the period, it added.
The center said four regional high-temperature events occurred in the country from January to June, with the first one coming 16 days earlier than usual.
Altogether, these events lasted for 31 days. During the six-month period, 301 national meteorological stations reported daily high temperatures that reached extreme weather levels, the center said.
According to the China Meteorological Administration, there were 10,930 national ground meteorological stations across the country by the end of 2021.
The National Climate Center noted North China, which includes Beijing, as one of the most affected by high temperatures.
During the heat wave from June 14 to 17, for instance, temperatures above 40 C raged through about 17,000 square kilometers in the region, affecting more than 200 million people, it said.
From 2014 to this year, the region was hit by 10 high-temperature events. Such events happened in June in North China in all years during that period except 2014 and 2015.
"But the repeated occurrences of high temperatures (in the region this year) are extremely rare in history," it said.
The center forecast three high-temperature events in the first half of July in China. It said two of them will affect North China and the area between the Yellow and Huaihe rivers from Saturday to Sunday, and then from Wednesday to July 8.
The center is predicting that North China, as well as parts of central and southwestern China, will experience periodic high-temperature events from July to August, with average temperatures 1 to 2 C higher than in normal years.
North China and the area between the Yellow and Huaihe rivers are being blanketed by a strong warm air mass, which has been lingering for a long period, said Zhang Fanghua, a chief forecaster of the National Meteorological Center.
High pressure in the upper atmosphere is also to blame for the scorching temperatures in the two regions, as it results in fewer clouds and allows more solar radiation to reach the ground, she was quoted as saying by the Guangming Daily newspaper in Beijing.
She said the low humidity in the two regions also creates favorable conditions for temperatures to rise.
Against the backdrop of climate change, a moderate El Nino — a periodic event that involves warming currents in the Pacific Ocean — that is expected to occur this autumn may lead to more frequent, widespread and extreme weather events in China, the media outlet reported.
Gao Hui, another chief forecaster with the National Meteorological Center, said as global warming continues, the number of high-temperature days will increase.