Following an over 20-day spell of high-temperature alerts across the country, the China Meteorological Administration (CMA) issued a red heatwave alert on August 12, the highest level in the country.
The highest temperature recorded at one of the CMA observation stations on August 13 was as high as 44.3 degrees Celsius.
Many extreme weather events have been observed since the middle of the 20th century, of which frequent heatwaves are prominent, according to the Sixth Assessment Report of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
If global warming continues, heatwaves may become a new normal in China as well as the world, said Chen Lijuan, chief weather forecaster from the Beijing Climate Center under the CMA.
Why heatwaves this year are so long and strong?
Chen Lijuan told China Media Group (CMG) that this year's prolonged spells of heat could be the strongest on record.
"This year, the high temperature lasted for a long time. It started early and is expected to last for a long time and end later. The reason behind such phenomena is far from weather scale, and there must be deeper climatic elements which are closely related to climate change," said Chen.
Zheng Fei, a research fellow at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, explained that a major reason for the strong heatwave is the abnormal persistence of an extensive subtropical anticyclone, and it is part of a La Nina phenomenon.
Anticyclones signify sinking airflows that cause a significant rise in the near-surface temperatures. They also lead to clear weather with less cloud cover, which increases solar radiation and causes higher temperatures on the ground, said Zheng.
The persistence of an anticyclone system has not only affected China but also some European countries and American states along similar latitudes. Experts noted that with climate change accelerating, extreme weather and abnormal weather systems could become more frequent.
How to survive the hot summer?
The continuous high temperatures are affecting the sowing season in China. It is necessary to irrigate plants in a timely manner, employ spraying techniques for cooling and promptly remove heat-affected fruits to reduce the adverse impacts of such weather and drought on the agricultural sector, said Chen Tao, chief forecaster of the CMA.
In addition, the expert further said that a surge in electricity demand is one of the most visible effects of the prolonged heatwave.
Under high temperatures, the frequency of air conditioning and other electrical appliances are greatly increased, which has a great impact on energy supply. Chen reminded that the relevant departments must make emergency plans according to the temperature forecast to ensure power supply.
For the public, Chen warned that during the hot weather, one should minimize long-term outdoor activities, drink plenty of water and avoid heatstroke as well as other high-temperature-induced issues.