Extreme Heat in China Melts Museum Roof, Buckles Roads
Temperatures have gotten so extreme in parts of China that they are altering the shape of roads and snapping tiles off of roofs.
The infrastructure-melting heat wave had triggered red alerts in Shanghai and more than 90 other places as of 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Reuters reported. Red alerts are the highest possible heat wave alert in China. They signal that temperatures will climb past 40 degrees Celsius and pause or decrease most construction and other outdoor activities.
“Up here, it is very hot, it is like a food steamer,” a worker named Wang Mian who was maintaining air conditioners on top of trains in Zhengzhou in Henan province said, as Reuters reported.
On Sunday, the financial hub of Shanghai issued its first red alert in five years, Reuters reported Tuesday. It then issued another Wednesday, as Reuters reported the next day. Shanghai has only seen temperatures higher than 40 degrees for a total of 15 days since record-keeping began in 1873, according to Reuters’ Tuesday report.
“This year, the heat has arrived a little earlier than before,” Shanghai resident Zhu Daren, who had taken her five-year-old son to cool off in a fountain, told Reuters. “Although it is just July, I feel the warm weather has already reached the high point. Basically, you need to turn on the air-conditioning when you get home and put on some sunscreen when you go out.”
In addition to Shanghai, the high temperatures have impacted dozens of cities in the country’s south and east, according to The New York Times. The heat is predicted to linger for a minimum of two weeks.
In one particularly dramatic example, the roof tiles of a museum in Chongqing literally melted. The museum, which was exhibiting artifacts from the Palace Museum, is now shuttered for repairs.
In another incident shown on state TV, a road in a town in Jiangxi province in the south rose up six inches in the heat, Reuters reported Tuesday. In the city of Nanjing, meanwhile, residents are hiding from the heat in underground shelters designed for airaids.
The heat wave is putting pressure on China’s power grid and economy, CNN reported. Authorities in the eastern Zhejiang province urged residents to conserve electricity Tuesday.
“In order to ensure electricity supply for residents and companies… we call for the joint actions by the whole of society to save electricity,” Zhejiang’s energy bureau said with the State Grid in a statement reported by CNN.
In addition, the Central Meteorological Observatory said the heat wave could harm harvests of corn, soybean and wheat in northern provinces like Ningxia, Inner Mongolia, and Hebei. This comes as the prices of both food and pig feed are already increasing, and could further impact the pig industry. Pork is a staple in China, and prices had already increased by nearly 50 percent between March and July 1.
The latest heat wave comes amidst a summer of extreme weather for China. It also suffered through a northern heat wave and historic flooding in the south in late June. Both heavy rainfall and extreme heat waves are becoming more likely because of the climate crisis.
China’s National Climate Center said Wednesday that more than 900 people and half of China’s land area had been impacted by high heat in the last month, as Reuters further reported.