The Jialing River bed at its confluence with the Yangtze River was exposed on August 18, 2022 in Chongqing, China, due to drought.
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China issued its first drought emergency this year as scorching temperatures dry up areas of the Yangtze River and strain the power grid as the country battles the record-breaking heat wave.
Authorities issued the national yellow alert late Thursday after China’s central and southern provinces endured weeks of extreme heat, with temperatures in dozens of cities surpassing 40 degrees Celsius or 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
The heat wave has disrupted crop growth, threatened livestock and prompted some industries to close to save power for homes.
China’s Sichuan province, home to 94 million people, this week ordered all factories to shut down for six days to ease power shortages in the region. The shutdowns came after reservoir levels plummeted and air conditioning demand spiked during the heat.
Rainfall in the Yangtze River basin has also decreased by about 45% compared to the average in recent years, according to data from the Ministry of Water Resources. As many as 66 rivers in 34 provinces in Chongqing’s southwestern region have dried up, state broadcaster CCTV said.
A sprinkler irrigates a corn field to mitigate the effects of drought caused by high temperatures, in Xiliangshi village in Boai province in Jiaozuo, Henan province, China, June 20, 2022.
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Southwest China’s Beibei district experienced record temperatures of 45 degrees Celsius or 113 Fahrenheit on Thursday, the National Meteorological Center said.
Chinese officials this week unveiled measures to mitigate the impact of the drought, including cloud seeding to trigger rainfall, $44 million in disaster relief for the worst-affected communities and closures of some energy-intensive sectors.
Dan Wang, the chief economist of Hang Seng Bank China, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Thursday that the heat could have a significant impact on China’s economy. Wang said the country’s steel, chemical and fertilizer industries are already experiencing a production slowdown.
“It will affect those big energy intensive industries and it will… [a] domino effect across the economy and even the global supply chain,” Wang said.
In July, extreme temperatures caused direct economic losses of 2.73 billion yuan, or $400 million, affecting 5.5 million people, according to data released Thursday by China’s Ministry of Emergency Relief.
— CNBCs Sumathi Bala contributed reporting
On August 19, 2022, part of a dried-out riverbed can be seen along the Yangtze River in Jiujiang in China’s central Jiangxi province.
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