China shatters all-time high temperature record with a sizzling 52.2C

Searing temperature comes as John Kerry reaches Beijing for climate talks opened up by US and China for first time since last year

Stuti Mishra
Monday 17 July 2023 13:21 BST
Wildfires engulf Dalmatian coast in Croatia during record heatwave

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China recorded its highest-ever temperature on Sunday amid blistering heatwaves that have been shattering records all summer in the country and across the globe.

The remote Sanbao township in the Turpan depression of Xinjiang saw temperatures climb up to 52.2C.

Sunday’s temperature broke the previous record of 50.3C, measured in 2015 near Ayding in the depression, a vast basin of sand dunes and dried-up lakes more than 150 metres below sea level.

China has been hit by a series of climate disasters this year with ongoing heatwaves shattering record after record, extreme rainfall prompting floods and landslides and tropical storm Talim making landfall on Monday.

The record 50C temperature comes after China’s Mohe, in Heilongjiang province, recorded temperatures of minus 53C in January amid an extreme cold spell.

China has been facing a dramatic swing of extreme weather in recent days, with back-to-back heatwaves and thunderstorms hitting various parts of the country.

The country recorded its hottest June since 2000, with Beijing enduring temperatures over 35C for 14 consecutive days, the highest number of scorching days since records began in 1961.

In recent days, temperatures have repeatedly crossed the highs of 45C in several northern regions, while severe rainfall and flooding have killed dozens in Southwest China.

Meteorologists are predicting that sweltering conditions in the country will persist for the next five days, asking citizens to brace for relentless heat.

The extreme weather has triggered Chinese cities to open air raid shelters to provide relief to their citizens. Employers were ordered to restrict outdoor work due to soaring temperatures.

The record-breaking heatwave in China aligns with the global trend of extreme temperatures. Large parts of Europe and North and Central America are reeling under record-shattering heat.

Back-to-back heatwaves are pushing temperatures higher in southern Europe, with Italy’s Sardinia expected to breach the 48C mark, breaking 2021’s record of the highest temperature in the continent.

Meanwhile, the southern US is grappling with record-breaking heat as well. California’s Death Valley recorded a temperature of 53C on Sunday.

The heat warnings in the US have spread from the Pacific Northwest, down through California, through the Southwest and into the Deep South and Florida.

The extreme temperatures were recorded as the first week of July marked the planet’s hottest week on record, data from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has shown.

The UN body said June was the hottest month ever recorded worldwide, attributing the soaring temperatures to the worsening climate crisis and the early stages of El Niño, a warming of ocean surface temperatures in the Pacific.

Amid the ongoing global heatwave crisis, the US and China are reopening climate talks for the first time since last year, when increasing tensions between the countries suspended any bilateral talks.

US climate envoy John Kerry landed in Beijing on Sunday and met China’s climate envoy Xie Zhenhua to address climate change challenges ahead of the upcoming global climate summit in Dubai.

Mr Kerry said the worsening climate disasters were making it “toxic” for people to live on the planet.

“Floods and intensive storms happen with greater frequency than ever before... Fires devour millions of acres of forest every year,” Mr Kerry said in a conference in Beijing on Monday morning.

“It is toxic for both Chinese and for Americans and for people in every country on the planet.”

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