China capital, Beijing, has been experiencing exceptionally hot weather this year, with 28 days surpassing the usual temperatures so far, according to the Beijing Meteorological Observatory. The observatory defines a hot day as one where temperatures exceed 35°C (95°F). On July 19, the observatory issued a high-temperature alert for July 20, predicting a temperature of around 36°C. This heatwave has already broken the previous record set in 2020 of 26 hot days.
The scorching temperatures have made life difficult for local residents. Lu Xin, a Beijing resident living in Chaoyang District, described the extreme conditions as unbearable. When temperatures reached over 40°C (104°F), people were too afraid to venture outside. The air felt like it was sizzling, and even mosquitoes stopped biting due to the heat. The situation is particularly challenging for those who work in the food delivery industry. Mr. Lu shared an encounter with a delivery employee, a recent college graduate struggling to find suitable employment. The young man’s face was dripping with sweat as he delivered food on a blisteringly hot day, highlighting the absence of any heat allowance for workers in such conditions.
Record-breaking temperatures have been recorded in Beijing this summer. On June 22, the observatory measured a temperature of 41.1°C (106°F), which was not only the highest temperature recorded in China that day but also tied as the second-highest temperature in Beijing’s history. A red alert for high temperatures was subsequently issued from June 23 to 25, with temperatures ranging from 37°C (98.6°F) to 40°C (104°F) in most areas. This was the first red alert for high temperatures in Beijing in eight years. The extreme heat continued, with temperatures exceeding 40°C (104°F) for three consecutive days, a first in the observatory’s history. On July 6, another high-temperature red alert was issued, predicting temperatures of over 40°C (104°F) for six to seven days.
The heatwave is not limited to Beijing but has affected multiple regions in China since last month. Northwestern China, parts of the northeast and southwest, have all experienced record-high temperatures. This heatwave mirrors a global trend of unusually high temperatures. A study published in Nature Communications in April identified the Beijing area as one of the most vulnerable to extreme heat events. Other areas at risk include Germany, the Netherlands, Central America, and Afghanistan.
The impact of the heatwave extends beyond discomfort and inconvenience. In Hebei Province, a red alert was issued due to high temperatures reaching 37-39℃ (998.6-102.2°F), with certain regions reaching an extreme temperature of 40-43℃ (104-109.4°F). Hangzhou, located in Eastern China, experienced a storm that did not provide relief from the heat; instead, it transformed raindrops into steam on the scorching sidewalks. Furthermore, China has rewritten its record for the highest temperature ever recorded. Sanbao township in Xinjiang’s Turpan Depression recorded temperatures as high as 52.2 degrees Celsius (126 °F) between July 16 and 17.
The hot weather has also impacted public health. Doctors at a fever clinic in Zhengzhou, Henan Province, are attending to a significant number of patients due to the extreme weather conditions. People are advised to stay hydrated and minimize outdoor activities. If someone experiences a fever that persists, medical attention should be sought immediately.
The heatwave and its associated challenges are a stark reminder of the increasing incidence of extreme weather events. People’s lives and livelihoods are being affected, emphasizing the need for measures to mitigate the effects of climate change and prioritize the well-being of individuals and communities.