China’s Yangtze river shrinks as heatwave, drought threaten crops

On August 7, 2012, the ships departed on the Yangtze River near Badong, 100km (62 mi) from the Three Gorges Dam in Hubei Province. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

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SHANGHAI, Aug 15 (Reuters) – Regions dependent on China’s longest river, the Yangtze, will have to deploy pumps and cloud-seeding rockets as a prolonged drought threatens water levels and crops, and a heat wave is set to last for two more weeks. .

The middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze have faced temperatures of more than 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in the past month, experts have blamed on climate change-induced variations in the western Pacific subtropical high, a major determinant of summer weather in East Asia.

The Shanghai government’s Guangming Daily newspaper reported that with the autumn harvest threatened, the Ministry of Agriculture has deployed 25 teams to key regions to protect crops.

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The heat wave is likely to last another two weeks, making it the longest period of extreme temperatures since records began in 1961, experts from China’s National Meteorological Center told the official Science and Technology Daily on Monday.

The Yangtze River drainage area received about 30% of its rainfall in July and 60% below normal in August, with the river’s tributaries “significantly below” historical levels, according to the Yangtze River Water Resources Commission.

Poyang Lake in central China’s Jiangxi Province, which plays a major role in regulating the flow of Yangtze water in summer, has shrunk to levels normally seen during the winter dry season after a 50% drop in rainfall in July.

Villages dependent on lake water have been forced to install pumps to irrigate paddy fields, according to media reports.

In the southwestern municipality of Chongqing, which is facing its second hottest summer since records began in 1961, 900 missiles have been deployed to try to “seed” clouds and bring rain, media reported.

Other regions have launched their own climate change operations.

China normally releases water from the Three Gorges Reservoir to relieve drought on the Yangtze, but downstream outflows are half the level of a year ago, official data show.

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David Stanaway reports

Our Standards: Principles of Thomson Reuters Trust.

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