China logs 52.2 Celsius as extreme weather rewrites records

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Beijing: A remote township in China’s arid northwest endured temperatures of more than 52 degrees on Sunday, state media reported, setting a record for a country that was battling minus 50C weather just six months ago.

Temperatures at Sanbao township in Xinjiang’s Turpan Depression soared as high as 52.2 degrees on Sunday, state-run Xinjiang Daily reported on Monday, with the record heat expected to persist at least another five days.

A couple sit next to a large misting fan as they wait for a table outside a popular local restaurant during a heatwave in Beijing, China.Credit: Getty

The Sunday temperature broke a previous record of 50.3 degrees, measured in 2015 near Ayding in the depression, a vast basin of sand dunes and dried-up lakes more than 150m below sea level.

Since April, countries across Asia have been hit by several rounds of record-breaking heat, stoking concerns about their ability to adapt to a rapidly changing climate. The target of keeping long-term global warming within 1.5 degrees is moving out of reach, climate experts say.

Prolonged bouts of high temperatures in China have challenged power grids and crops, and concerns are mounting of a possible repeat of last year’s drought, the most severe in 60 years.

China is no stranger to dramatic swings in temperatures across the seasons but the swings are getting wider.

On January 22, temperatures in Mohe, a city in northeastern Heilongjiang province, plunged to minus 53 degrees, according to the local weather bureau, smashing China’s previous all-time low of minus 52.3 degrees set in 1969.

Since then, the heaviest rains in a decade have hit central China, ravaging wheat fields in an area known as the country’s granary.

Prolonged high temperatures in China are threatening power grids and crops and raising concerns about a repeat of last year’s drought, the most severe in 60 years.

Typhoon Talim was gaining strength and due to make land at night along China’s southern coast, forcing the cancellation of flights and trains in the regions of Guangdong and Hainan.

A woman cools herself in front of a misting fan in Beijing, China. Credit: Getty

In a resumption of diplomacy on global warming between the two superpowers, US climate envoy John Kerry met Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua in Beijing, urging joint action to cut methane emissions and coal-fired power.

Asia, Europe and much of the United States baked under extreme heat on Monday as global temperatures soared toward alarming highs and US leaders sought to reignite climate diplomacy with China.

“In the next three days, we hope we can begin taking some big steps that will send a signal to the world about the serious purpose of China and the United States to address a common risk, threat, challenge to all of humanity created by humans themselves,” Kerry said, noting the proliferation of storms and fires.

“It is toxic for both Chinese and for Americans and for people in every country on the planet.”

The US was scorched by record-setting heat in the West and South, lashed with flood-triggering rain in the Northeast, and choked by wildfire smoke in the Midwest.

A heat dome parked over the western US pushed the temperature in California’s Death Valley desert to 53 degrees on Sunday, and kept daily highs in Phoenix on track to exceed 43 degrees through the week.

Even as nearly a quarter of the US population fell under extreme heat advisories, heavy rains devastated the state of Vermont and parts of Pennsylvania, where flash floods killed five people and swept cars away over the weekend.


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