Several regions on the Yangtze have begun weather modification programs, but operations are on hold in some drought-affected parts of the river basin because cloud cover is so thin.
The drought in the Yangtze River basin is “adversely affecting drinking water security for rural people and livestock and crop growth,” the Ministry of Water Resources said in a statement on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, central China’s Hubei province became the latest to announce it would seed clouds using silver iodide rods to induce rain.
Silver iodide sticks, usually the size of a cigarette, are injected into existing clouds to help form ice crystals. The crystals then help the cloud produce more rain, making it more likely to release its moisture heavier and more.
Cloud seeding has been practiced since the 1940s, and China has the largest program in the world. It was seeded to provide dry weather for the event ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics and can also be used to make snow or soften hail.
At least 4.2 million people in Hubei province have been affected by severe drought since June, the Emergency Management Agency of Hubei Province said on Tuesday. More than 150,000 people have difficulty getting drinking water there, and nearly 400,000 hectares of farmland have been damaged due to high temperatures and drought.
Communities often rely on these water bodies for economic activity, and governments have to intervene with adaptation measures and aid funds, which cost large sums of money.
China is deploying such funds and developing new sources of supply to address impacts on crops and livestock. The Ministry of Finance announced earlier this week that it would allocate 300 million yuan ($44.30 million) for disaster relief, saying some livestock had been temporarily moved to other regions.
China’s largest hydropower project, the Three Gorges Dam, will also increase water discharges by 500 million cubic meters over the next 10 days to boost downstream supplies, the Ministry of Water Resources said Tuesday.
The “longest” and “strongest” heat wave in history
China issued the highest red alert for at least 138 cities and counties across the country on Wednesday, while another 373 cities were hit with the second highest orange alert, the Meteorological Administration said.
As of Monday, China’s heat wave had lasted 64 days, the longest in six decades since full records began in 1961, the National Climate Center said in a statement. He also said it was the “strongest” recorded and warned it could get worse in the coming days.
“The heat wave this time is long, wide in scope and extremely strong,” the statement said. “If all the signs are taken together, the heat wave in China will continue and increase in intensity.”
The heat wave also recorded the most states and cities to exceed 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) since records began, according to the statement. The number of weather stations recording temperatures of 40C and above has reached 262, which is the highest indicator. Eight reached 44C.
The Sichuan Basin and large parts of central China are forecast to continue with persistently high temperatures until August 26.
Cai Wenju, a climate researcher at Australia’s National Science Research Institute CSIRO, said a “special case” of high pressure from the western Pacific subtropical high covering much of Asia is likely to be the cause of the extreme heat.
CNN’s Larry Register, Angela Dewan and Laura O contributed to this report.
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