A record-breaking drought has caused parts of the Yangtze River to dry up, affecting hydropower, shipping routes, and drinking water supplies. Photo by European Space Agency
Aug. 24 (BP) — A heat wave in China is threatening food production in that country, as high temperatures cause parts of the massive Yangtze River to dry up and threaten crops.
The heat wave entered its 73rd day Wednesday, as the Chinese government issued its first drought emergency of the year. China’s previous heat wave record was 62 days in 2013.
Chinese authorities issued a national yellow alert last Thursday, as temperatures eclipsed 104 degrees F in dozens of cities.
Temperatures also are putting pressure on the country’s power grid. China’s Sichaun Province has received 51% less precipitation than normal this summer in addition to the excessive heat. The province has a population of 94 million people.
Hot and dry conditions have contributed to the spread of wildfires across the country over the past week. The city of Chongqing, along the Yangtze, saw a low of 95 degrees F some days, a record daily minimum for August. More than 60 rivers in the same region have dried up, according to state broadcaster CCTV.
Rainfall in the Yangtze River basin has declined by roughly 45% compared to the recent yearly average, according to the country’s Ministry of Water Resources.
Images captured by the European Space Agency’s Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission show a dramatic comparison of Yangtze and Jialing river levels, near Chongqing, over the last three years.
China counts on hydroelectricity for about 15% of its total energy needs. Shrinking water levels have put a strain on production capabilities amid rising demand.
Hydropower output fell below half its normal level in SIchuan earlier in the week, prompting the 67 coal-fired power plants in the province to generate as much power as possible as part of an emergency response, according to Chinese officials.
Aside from agriculture production, the increasing power demands are also negatively impacting the manufacturing industry.
Companies including Toyota, Volkswagen, Intel, Tesla and Apple have been forced to reduce production at their operations in Sichaun to ration electricity, Grist reported on Tuesday.