China could see more extreme weather events this rainy season, forecasters say

China may experience more extreme weather events during this year’s rainy season from May to September compared to historical levels, according to the National Climate Centre.

The NCC said the conditions were expected to be generally normal to “relatively worse”, with more droughts and floods in certain regions.

Parts of the north could experience more intense rainfall, while some eastern and southwestern areas may have more droughts, according to the latest NCC forecasts.

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The southern province of Guangdong has already recorded its heaviest rainfall in May since 2003. Twenty-one cities – or 76 per cent of the province – experienced more than 100mm of rainfall within 24 hours last week. Some 17 cities and counties in the province had extreme daily rainfall of more than 250mm. Schools and public transport were suspended in major cities including Guangzhou and Zhuhai.

Heavy rains also battered the neighbouring Guangxi Zhuang region last week, with more than 27,000 people across 22 counties affected. Some 2,400 hectares of crops were damaged and 238 people had to be relocated, according to state news agency Xinhua.

China has seen an increase in extreme rainfall as well as heatwaves over the past six decades due to the impact of the monsoon system and rising temperatures.

Last July, unprecedented heavy rainfall hit Henan province in central China, affecting more than 15 million and leaving 398 people dead or missing. The direct economic losses were estimated at 120 billion yuan (US$17.7 billion).

This summer, the NCC has forecast more rainfall in the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River and along rivers in north and northeastern China compared to historical levels.

It said parts of eastern and central China and the Xinjiang region in the far west could meanwhile experience extreme heatwaves.

Xiao Chan, deputy director of the NCC, said China was also expected to be affected by more typhoons during this year’s rainy season and they may even hit the north of the country.

“Typhoon activities are less common in the north and [the region] has relatively little experience in dealing with typhoons,” Xiao told China Meteorological News. “It is important to improve the ability to defend against disaster and reduce adverse effects,” he added.

Climate change takes China sea levels to record high, study finds

Meanwhile, global temperatures continue to rise. The World Meteorological Organization last week said there was a 50 per cent chance of the average global temperatures reaching 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels at least once within the next five years.

The 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold is the lower limit under the Paris Agreement, beyond which will lead to more prevalent extreme weather and continued rising sea levels.

China has been warming faster than the world average over the past century, according to Yan Zhongwei from the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Atmospheric Physics. Yan told National Science Review in 2020 that the temperature rise was less than 1 degree Celsius globally in the past century, but for China it was 1.3 to 1.6 degrees Celsius.

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