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China expecting more heat waves over coming days

China will suffer the return of more heatwaves over the next 10 days from east to west, with some cities on the coast already issuing the highest level warning and inland regions warning of dam failure risks as glacial melt accelerates.

A sharp temperature spike is expected on Saturday, before building up into heat waves, defined as periods of atypically hot weather of three days or more. This Saturday is the day of the “big heat” in the Chinese Almanac based on the lunar calendar.

The hot spell is expected to be similar in scope as heat waves from July 5-17, but more regions could be hit by temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher, Fu Jiaolan, chief forecaster at the National Meteorological Centre, told state media.

Some cities in Zhejiang province, home to many factories and exporters, on Friday issued red alerts, the highest in a three-tier warning system, forecasting temperatures of at least 40 degrees in the next 24 hours.

The load on the national power grid could reach a new high this summer as demand for air-conditioning by homes, offices and factories surges, with safe operation facing “severe tests”, the Ministry of Emergency Management warned on Friday.

Zhejiang province, as well as parts of Fujian, Guangdong, Hunan, Jiangxi and the city of Chongqing, also stand at risk of forest fires in the near term, the ministry said.

Glacial Melt

In the western region of Xinjiang, accelerated glacial melt through July 29 poses risks to rivers and dams, the China Meteorological Administration said on Friday, warning particularly of a high risk of dam failure on a tributary of the Aksu River near China’s border with Kyrgyzstan.

The heat in China this summer has been described as “extreme”. From June 1 to July 20, the Yellow River and Yangtze River basins – major centres of industry and commerce – were hit by at least 10 high-temperature days more than the norm.

Heatwaves have also scorched other parts of East Asia, Western Europe, North Africa and North America, sparking wildfires in many countries.

Scientists caution that climate change will only make heatwaves hotter and more frequent. The highest-ever recorded temperature in China is a matter of debate.

According to Chinese media, the hottest period in the last 300 years was in July 1743 during the Qing dynasty, with a French missionary in Beijing said to have recorded an all-time high of 44.4C.

Temperatures in the oasis city of Turpan could reach 50C next week, according to the China Meteorological Administration on Friday.

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