The nationwide average temperature was 22.4C last month, exceeding the norm by 1.2C, state broadcaster CCTV reports.
Chinese authorities recorded the country’s hottest August since records began, according to state media, following an unusually intense summer heat wave that dried up rivers, scorched crops and triggered isolated power outages.
Last month, southern China was swamped by what experts said was one of the worst heat waves in world history, with temperatures in parts of Sichuan province and the megacity of Chongqing soared well above 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) for days.
The nationwide average temperature was 22.4C in August, exceeding the norm by 1.2C, state broadcaster CCTV reported on Tuesday, citing the country’s meteorological service. Some 267 weather stations across the country tied or broke temperature records last month, he said.
It was also the third driest August on record in China, with average rainfall 23.1 percent below average.
“The average number of high-temperature days was abnormally high, and regional high-temperature processes continue to impact our country,” CCTV reported, according to the weather service.
Scientists say that extreme weather events such as heat waves, droughts and flash floods are becoming more frequent and intense due to human-induced climate change.
Last month, temperatures as high as 45C prompted several Chinese provinces to impose power cuts as cities struggled to cope with a surge in electricity demand partly due to people increasing the air conditioner.
Chongqing and the eastern megacity of Shanghai, the country’s largest, turned off decorative outdoor lighting to ease the electricity crisis, while authorities in Sichuan imposed industrial power cuts as water levels decreased in the main hydroelectric plants.
China, which began compiling information in 1961, also issued its first national drought alert of the year in August as the country battled wildfires and mobilized teams of specialists to protect crops from scorching temperatures in the Yangtze River Basin.
Footage from Chongqing showed a tributary of the mighty Yangtze River had nearly dried up, a scene echoed further east where the waters of China’s largest freshwater lake also receded significantly.
According to data from China’s Emergency Ministry, high temperatures in July alone caused direct economic losses of 2.73 billion yuan ($400 million), affecting 5.5 million people.
As local authorities warned that drought posed a “serious threat” to this year’s harvest, the central government approved billions of yuan in subsidies to support rice farmers.
“This is a warning to us, reminding us to have a deeper understanding of climate change and improve our ability to adapt to it in all respects,” said Zhang Daquan, a senior official with the National Climate Center of China. China, in comments carried Monday by the state-run People’s Daily.
“There is also a need to raise awareness across society to adapt to climate change…and strive to minimize social and economic impacts and losses,” Zhang said.