China is suffering from one of its worst heatwaves in recorded history – and some hard-hit residents in Shanghai and the eastern and southern provinces are demonstrating the extremely high temperatures by cooking food atop of manhole covers and sidewalks. Shanghai experienced the highest temperatures since record keeping began in 1873, reaching 105 degrees F on July 26. China’s largest city wasn’t alone – at least 40 cities and counties have risen above 104 degrees F. On the same day Shanghai broke its high temperature record, the coastal city of Ningbo reached 108.9 degrees F, the highest temperature ever recorded along the entire coastline of east and southeast Asia.
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There has been little relief in China, as nighttime temperatures have only dipped into the 80s and 90s—temperatures that are typically the daily highs for Shanghai in July. The city experienced 14 different days of plus-hundred degree Fahrenheit temperatures in July including nine straight days at the end of the month.
Global warming has increased the potential for extreme heat waves across the world as melting Arctic sea ice slows down the jet stream and makes it wavy, creating what are called blocking or stuck weather patterns.
Climate scientist Andrew Dressler of Texas A&M University, a state that suffered through its own record-breaking heat wave in 2011, told the Associated Press by email that “you often hear people say, ‘Oh, we’ll just adapt to the changing climate.’ It turns out that that’s a lot harder than it sounds, as the people in China are finding out now.”
As the world’s largest polluter, China recently announced it is taking dramatic action to reduce its carbon emissions that contribute to climate change. The Chinese government is committing $277 billion to cutting carbon pollution and last month began rolling out a regional emission trading system that could cover the entire country by 2015. China is also heavily investing in clean energy with a target this year of installing 35 gigawatts of solar, wind and hydroelectric power with the government also working on a carbon tax and strict energy efficiency regulations for corporations.
Meanwhile, China is bracing for more extreme heat into August.