Nothing in history compares to China’s brutal heatwave, says weather historian

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The two-month stretch of warm weather baking large swathes of China is, altogether, the world’s most extreme heat wave ever, a climatologist says.

The country has held national weather records since 1961, and this summer’s hot spell marks the longest continuous period of high temperatures southern China has seen since, Agence France-Presse reported Thursday.

“This combines the most extreme intensity with the most extreme length and at the same time an incredibly large area,” Herrera told New Scientist on Tuesday. “There is nothing in the world’s climate history that is even minimally comparable to what is happening in China.”

Farmers in China’s Sichuan province in a parched field on Friday, August 26.

From Sichuan Province in the southwest to Jiangsu on the east coast, temperatures have routinely exceeded 104 degrees Fahrenheit, The New York Times reported earlier this month. On at least one day, the temperature in Chongqing Municipality reached 113 degrees.

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Severe droughts have dried up rivers, lakes and other bodies of water — including reservoirs that generate hydropower on which Sichuan relies for most of its electricity, TSTIME reported. As a result, the 80-million-population province has suffered massive power outages. Factories are closed, public transport is shrouded in darkness and farmers are seeing devastating crop losses.

The bed of Poyang, China's largest freshwater lake, is exposed on Wednesday, Aug. 24 during a drought in Jiangxi province.
The bed of Poyang, China’s largest freshwater lake, is exposed on Wednesday, Aug. 24 during a drought in Jiangxi province.

Zhang Yu/VCG via Getty Images

Scientists have been warning for years that human-induced climate change is causing catastrophic disasters around the world, including extreme heat and drought.

“We’re looking at an undeniable long-term trend,” climate scientist Astrid Caldas told The Singapore Time last year. “Imagine what awaits us if warming continues unabated.”

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