Recent Extreme Weather Events
On July 24, 2015, the temperature reached 50.3°C (122.5°F) near Ayding Lake in Xinjiang
Province. This was the highest temperature ever recorded in China.7 Other heat records have
been broken in China in recent years:
● On July 20, 2017, Shanghai had its hottest day ever, with the temperature reaching
● In 2013, several southern and eastern provinces had the most severe heat wave
in at least 140 years. Chinese authorities declared the heat a “level 2” weather
emergency—a designation previously used only for typhoons and flooding.9
● The warmest years since Chinese scientists began gathering temperature records in
the early 1950s are 2015 (first), 2007 (second), 2017 (third) and 2016 (fourth).10
Heavy rainfall events in China are increasing in frequency and severity. A 2016 study found
that rainstorm days have increased 10% while light rainy days have decreased 13% since 1961.
Another study found that rainfall in southern China in 2015 was 50% greater than the 1971–
2000 average and that “[t]he rain fell in a series of heavy storms, causing severe flooding in
many cities with impacts that included loss of life.” In July 2007, the worst rainstorms in 115
years hit Chongqing, causing dozens of deaths and extensive property damage. In July 2012,
the heaviest rainfall in 60 years hit Beijing, leaving 37 people dead.11
Droughts have also been a problem. In 2017, parts of Inner Mongolia experienced the worst
drought on record. In 2016, drought days in northeastern China were 37% above average. In
2007, a severe drought struck parts of southern China. Reservoirs shrank, and parts of the
Yangtze River dropped to the lowest levels since records were first kept in the 19th century
(probably due not just to drought but to withdrawals).12
7. “50.3°C 新疆吐鲁番市艾丁湖刷新 “中国热极” 记录” [50.3°C Xinjiang Turpan Ayding Lake sets China temperature record], Asia Heart Network (July 29, 2015), http://news.ifeng.com/a/20150729/44292217_0.shtml
8. “Hottest day ever in Shanghai as heat wave bakes China,” Phys.org (July 21, 2017 ), https://phys.org/news/2017-07-hottest-day-shanghai-china.html.
9. “China endures worst heat wave in 140 years,” USA Today (August 1, 2013), http://www.usatoday.com/story/weather/2013/08/01/china-heat-wave/2608415/.
10. China Meteorological Administration, “Global warming has changed rainfall patterns of China, climate expert,” (February 17, 2017), http://www.cma.gov.cn/en2014/news/News/201702/t20170217_393070.html; 2017年中国气候公报??? 去年我国冬季气温为历史同期最高, Xinhua (January 2018), http://www.xinhuanet.com/politics/2018-01/17/c_1122269260.htm.
11. China Meteorological Administration, “Global warming has changed” (February 17, 2017), http://www.cma.gov.cn/en2014/news/News/201702/t20170217_393070.html; Stephanie C. Herring, Andrew Hoell, Martin P. Hoerling, James P. Kossin, Carl J. Schreck III and Peter A. Stott, “Explaining Extreme Events of 2015 From a Climate Perspective, Special Supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (December 2016), http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/BAMS-D-16-0144.1; “Rainstorms kill 32 in Chongqing,” China Daily (July 18, 2007), http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/200707/18/content_5438852.htm; “Beijing chaos after record floods in Chinese capital,” BBC (July 2012), http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-18942984.
12. China Meteorological Administration, “Global warming has changed” (February 17, 2017); “Droughts in China,” Facts and Details (March 29, 2010), http://factsanddetails.com/china/cat10/sub64/item1879.html#chapter-1;
“Northern China suffering from worst drought on record, officials say,” TODAY (July 2017), https://www.todayonline.com/chinaindia/china/northern-china-suffering-worst-drought-record-officials-say.
13. Source: China Meteorological Administration, China Climate Bulletin, 中国气候公报 (2017); http://www.cma.gov.cn/root7/auto13139/201801/P020180117583067900904.pdf