Its largest lake is so dry, China digs deep to water crops

Aug 23, 2022, 12:52 AM | Updated: 6:58 am
In this aerial photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, water flows through chanels in the lak...

In this aerial photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, water flows through chanels in the lake bed of Poyang Lake, China's largest freshwater lake, in eastern China's Jiangxi Province, Monday, Aug. 22, 2022. With China's biggest freshwater lake reduced to just 25% of its usual size by drought, work crews are digging trenches to keep water flowing to irrigate crops. (Wan Xiang/Xinhua via AP)

(Wan Xiang/Xinhua via AP)

BEIJING (AP) — With China’s biggest freshwater lake reduced to just 25% of its usual size by a severe drought, work crews are digging trenches to keep water flowing to one of the country’s key rice-growing regions.

The dramatic decline of Poyang Lake in the landlocked southeastern province of Jiangxi had otherwise cut off irrigation channels to nearby farmlands. The crews, using excavators to dig trenches, only work after dark because of the extreme daytime heat, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

A severe heat wave is wreaking havoc across much of southern China. High temperatures have sparked mountain fires that have forced the evacuation of 1,500 people in the southwest, and factories have been ordered to cut production as hydroelectric plants reduce their output amid drought conditions. The extreme heat and drought have wilted crops and shrunk rivers including the giant Yangtze, disrupting cargo traffic.

Fed by China’s major rivers, Poyang Lake averages about 3,500 square kilometers (1,400 square miles) in high season, but has contracted to just 737 square kilometers (285 square miles) in the recent drought.

As determined by water level, the lake officially entered this year’s dry season Aug. 6, earlier than at any time since records began being taken in 1951. Hydrological surveys before then are incomplete, although it appears the lake may be at or around its lowest level in recent history.

Along with providing water for agriculture and other uses, the lake is a major stopover for migrating birds heading south for the winter.

China is more accustomed to dealing with the opposite problem: seasonal rains that trigger landslides and flooding every summer. Two years ago, villages and fields of rice, cotton, corn and beans around Poyang Lake were inundated after torrential rains.

This year, a wide swath of western and central China has seen days of temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in heat waves that have started earlier and lasted longer than usual.

The heat is likely connected to human-caused climate change, though scientists have yet to do to the complex calculations and computer simulations to say that for certain.

“The heat is certainly record-breaking, and certainly aggravated by human-caused climate change,” said Maarten van Aalst, director of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre in the Netherlands. “Drought is always a bit more complex.”

The “truly mind-boggling temperatures roasting China” are connected to a stuck jet stream — the river of air that moves weather systems around the world — said Jennifer Francis, a climate scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center in Falmouth, Massachusetts.

She said an elongated area of relatively high atmospheric pressure parked over western Russia is responsible for both China’s and Europe’s heat waves this year. In China’s case, the high pressure is preventing cool air masses and precipitation from entering the area.

“When hot, dry conditions get stuck, the soil dries out and heats more readily, reinforcing the heat dome overhead even further,” Francis said.

In the hard-hit city of Chongqing, some shopping malls have been told to open only from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. to conserve energy. Residents have been seeking respite in the cool of air raid shelters dating from World War II.

That reflects the situation in Europe and elsewhere in the Northern Hemisphere, with high temperatures taking a toll on public health, food production and the environment.

___

Associated Press science writer Seth Borenstein in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.

___

See more of AP’s climate coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/climate-and-environment

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Albania secures 2 satellites to monitor territory from space

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albania on Thursday reached a three-year agreement with an American company for a dedicated satellite constellation to provide the country with satellite imagery capabilities across its territory. The Albanian government signed the $6 million (6.2 million euros) deal with Satellogic USA Inc. of North Carolina, the prime minister’s office said. The […]
8 hours ago
FILE - Coolio appears at the 2015 ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif., on  June 25,...
Associated Press

‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ rapper Coolio dies at age 59

Coolio, the rapper who was among hip-hop's biggest names of the 1990s with hits including "Gangsta's Paradise" and "Fantastic Voyage," died Wednesday at age 59.
8 hours ago
FILE - A "SOLD" sign decorates the lawn of a new house in Pearl, Miss., on Sept. 23, 2021. Homeowne...
Associated Press

Homeowners see slower equity gains as housing market cools

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Homeowner equity climbed to record highs in the first half of this year, though its rate of growth is slowing as the housing market cools. Average homeowner equity per borrower reached $298,380 in the second quarter, according to data from CoreLogic. That works out to $3.6 trillion in equity gained by […]
8 hours ago
FILE - The electric Endurance pick-up truck is displayed at Lordstown Motors Corporation, in Lordst...
Associated Press

Lordstown Motors starts making electric trucks at Ohio plant

LORDSTOWN, Ohio (AP) — Commercial electric vehicle startup Lordstown Motors says it has slowly started production of its first model, the Endurance pickup. The struggling company says it has built two pickups, with a third to be finished shortly. It plans to ramp up production depending on quality and parts availability, it said in a […]
8 hours ago
A jogger runs along a sea wall, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022, in Miami.  States are spending billions of ...
Associated Press

States spend federal COVID aid on roads, buildings, seawalls

Standing 14 stories tall, the Docking State Office Building is one of Kansas’ largest and oldest state workplaces. It’s also largely vacant, despite a prime location across from the Capitol. So Kansas officials are planning to spend $60 million of federal pandemic relief funds to help finance its demolition and replace it with a slimmed-down, […]
8 hours ago
Wind turbines turn near the village of Feldheim, rear left, near Treuenbrietzen, Germany, Wednesday...
Associated Press

In one tiny German town, nobody worries about energy bills

FELDHEIM, Germany (AP) — Europeans are opening their energy bills with trepidation these days, bracing for hefty price hikes as utility companies pass on the surging cost of natural gas, oil and electricity tied to Russia’s war in Ukraine. Many are trying to conserve by turning down the heat and shutting off lights this winter. […]
8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
...
Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.
Its largest lake is so dry, China digs deep to water crops