Over the past summer regions of China have also experienced intense heat waves with eastern China setting a record of 40.8 C (105.4 F). Russia (Northern Siberia) has also had harsh rises in temperature over the summer. In China, cities such as Shanghai were particularly vulnerable. These images taken from the NASA Earth Observatory show the concentrations of the heat wave in different parts of China.
Taking into account China’s large population extra measures need to be taken in order to prevent deaths caused by heat waves. At least 40 people died during the heat wave in August. But this is actually quite low in comparison to the UK or other countries that have endured heat waves in recent years. A heat wave in the UK in July caused hundreds of deaths. Although whether the report on number of deaths caused by the heat wave in China is accurate or not is open to question. Drinking water shortages were also reported by China’s government news agency.
Weather historian Christopher C Burt from the blog Weather Underground notes that immigrants from rural areas living in cities affected by the heat wave would not be included in total number of fatalities, but does admit that the population affected may have learned to adapt to extreme heat. Obviously, more information is needed when or if it becomes available. It seems perfectly reasonable that certain populations could be more resilient to extreme heat conditions, but how people adapt seems another interesting and much-needed area of research in itself.