Extreme heat hits Shanghai: Highest May temperature in 100+ years recorded

This scorching weather follows a previous heatwave that swept through China in July

Web Desk
Tuesday, May 30, 2023
A woman wearing sun-protective clothing commutes on a bicycle amid hot weather in Shanghai on May 29, 2023. Shanghai on May 29 recorded its hottest May day in 100 years, the city´s meteorological service announced, shattering the previous high by a full degree.—AFP

In an extraordinary climatic event, the city of Shanghai in China registered its highest May temperature in more than 100 years on Monday. The mercury soared to a scorching 36.1 degrees Celsius (nearly 97 degrees Fahrenheit), surpassing the previous record of 35.7 degrees Celsius (96.3 degrees Fahrenheit) set in May 1876.

Since then, this milestone has been equalled only three times, occurring in 1903, 1915, and 2018, according to state media reports. Unfortunately, there is no information available regarding when temperature records were first initiated in the city.

This exceptional heatwave was recorded in Shanghai's Xuhui district, as stated by the Shanghai Meteorological Department, which issued the city's first high-temperature alert of the year. The alert was triggered as temperatures exceeded 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) for three consecutive days.

This scorching weather follows a previous heatwave that swept through China in July, prompting residents to seek refuge in air raid shelters and public fountains to seek relief from the sweltering conditions.

During the entirety of 2022, Shanghai experienced 50 days of temperatures exceeding 35 degrees Celsius. Presently, the city's temperature alert level stands at yellow, which is the lowest of the three-tier system.

If the maximum temperature is projected to rise above 37 degrees Celsius within 24 hours, an orange warning is issued, while a red warning is triggered when temperatures are expected to surpass 40 degrees Celsius in the upcoming 24 hours.

This alarming heatwave in Shanghai is part of a broader trend of record-breaking high temperatures across Asia. Earlier this month, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand's capital experienced sweltering conditions. Experts attribute the intensification of heatwaves to the exacerbating impacts of the human-induced climate crisis. In addition, an intense smoggy season has worsened the situation, leading to heightened pollution levels.

The effects of climate change are also evident in the rising temperatures of China's coastal waters. Wang Hua, head of the marine forecasting and monitoring department at China's Ministry of Natural Resources, emphasized the significant increase in coastal water temperatures and accelerated sea-level rise.

Shanghai, situated along this coastline, is grappling with the consequences, including coastal ecosystem erosion, loss of tidal flats, compromised groundwater supply, and amplified damage from storms, floods, and saltwater intrusion.

The record-breaking heatwave in Shanghai serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need to address climate change and its far-reaching implications, not only for China but also for the entire world.