According to state media, China experienced its hottest August on record. This comes after an extremely violent summer heatwave that dried up rivers, burnt crops, and caused sporadic blackouts.
Last month, portions of Sichuan province and the megacity of Chongqing sweltered in what experts say may have been one of the worst heatwaves in recorded history, with a streak of days with highs well over 40 degrees Celsius.
According to state broadcaster CCTV, which cited the nation's weather agency, the average temperature across the country in August was 22.4 degrees Celsius, which was 1.2 degrees Celsius higher than usual. As per the data, some 267 meteorological stations across the nation tied or beat temperature records last month.
With an average rainfall that was 23.1% below average, August in China ranked third among all Augusts ever. "The average number of high-temperature days was abnormally high, and regional high-temperature processes are continuing to impact our country," CCTV reported.
Scientists say climate change brought on by human activity is causing extreme weather, such as heatwaves, droughts, and flash floods, to occur more frequently and intensely.
When temperatures reached 45 degrees Celsius last month, some Chinese provinces had to implement power cuts as cities struggled to keep up with an increase in electricity demand that was partially fueled by people turning up their air conditioners.
Images from Chongqing revealed that a branch of the powerful Yangtze river had almost dried up, a scenario that was replicated farther east where the waters of China's largest freshwater lake had also significantly decreased.
To alleviate the power shortage, Chongqing and the eastern megacity of Shanghai turned off outdoor ornamental lighting, and in Sichuan, officials implemented industrial power cutbacks as water levels at significant hydroelectric plants decreased.
The central government granted billions of yuan in subsidies to help rice farmers, despite local officials' warnings that the drought presented a "severe threat" to this year's harvest.
"This is a warning for us, reminding us to have a deeper understanding of climate change and improve our ability to adapt to it in all respects," said Zhang Daquan, a senior official at China's National Climate Centre, in comments printed Monday by the state-run People's Daily newspaper.
"It is also necessary to raise awareness across all of society to adapt to climate change ... and strive to minimize social and economic impacts and losses," Zhang added.
The government was compelled to act radically during the heatwave. To give priority to home power, the Sichuan provincial government ordered factories to halt operations for 11 days from Aug. 15 to Aug. 25.