Temperatures plunge to historic lows as severe cold fronts impact most of China

Severe cold fronts have extended their grip over the majority of China, sending temperatures plunging below freezing and breaking historic extreme low records in multiple places, prompting authorities to deploy preventive arrangements to deal with possible extreme situations.

While experts reminded the public to take preventive measures to protect themselves as well as livestock as some places recorded temperatures below -40 C, they also assured the public there was no need to panic since China has strong capability to cope with extreme weather emergencies.

The past weekend was the coldest in the latter part of the year for a vast area of the country, with 23 provincial capital cities seeing record low temperatures since November, according to weather.com.cn.

The temperature difference between the highs and lows recorded at meteorological stations across China reached 76 C on Saturday, with the highest temperature of 31.8 C recorded in Baoting in South China's Hainan Province and the lowest of -44.2 C recorded in Tulihe township of Yakeshi city in North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

A total of 30 national-level meteorological stations in multiple provinces and cities such as Hebei, Shanxi, Beijing, Tianjin and Liaoning, recorded historic extreme low temperatures for December on Sunday morning, with five stations in Shanxi, Hebei and Liaoning seeing new records since their establishment.

On Sunday, China's capital Beijing also suffered the coldest day of the winter season at -15.5 C. It was the third lowest temperature for the period since 1951, when China started collecting complete and continuous meteorological observation data.

As of 8 am in Beijing, 14 of 20 national meteorological stations saw new records for extreme low temperatures for mid-December.

Over the past few days, snowfalls have swept through the Taklimakan Desert, China's largest desert, in the Tarim Basin in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, covering the sand dunes under a "white coat."

Temperatures in some places in South China's Guangdong Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region plunged 12 to 16 C in one day, leading to freezing rain and roads.

Affected by heavy snow, on Thursday evening, a subway train along the Changping Line in Beijing collided with the rear of a preceding train that had made an emergency stop, resulting in a separation of carriages, according to the preliminary investigation into the accident. A total of 102 people suffered fractures with no fatalities, authorities said on Friday.

In the wake of the accident, the national commission for disaster prevention, reduction and relief in a notification on Sunday urged authorities to strengthen patrols and control of key road sections, inspections of subways, overpasses, underpasses, and roads prone to freezing and accidents to effectively prevent accidents.

Ma Jun, director of the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, said that these cold waves have caused a vast area of snowfall, which will have a huge impact on the buildings, traffic and other infrastructure facilities that may affect the normal production and life orders in cities. Besides this, the snow can reflect sunlight and further slower warming during the day.

Especially in areas with extreme cold weather, such as in Inner Mongolia and Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province where temperatures below -40 C have been recorded, great caution should be taken to keep people and livestock warm and prevent damage from freezing, Ma told the Global Times on Sunday.

Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Guoqing, who is also director of the national commission for disaster prevention, reduction and relief, has required related departments to hold "red-line thinking" and "extreme thinking" to address possible extreme situations.

In a separate notification on Sunday, the commission called for all-out effort to be deployed to prevent and respond to low-temperature, rain, snow and freezing disasters. It emphasized that departments should establish complete emergency command systems to combat extreme weather, strengthen monitoring, warning, and analysis of weather patterns.

The commission said that there is an emergency dispatching mechanism for various energy sources to complement each other and carry out cross-provincial and cross-regional energy dispatching to ensure a steady and orderly supply and demand of energy across the country.

While the impact of this round of cold fronts has basically concluded, a new wave is predicted to sweep from the north toward the south from Monday to Wednesday that will affect the middle and eastern parts of the country, keeping the temperatures in the majority of the country at low levels next week, according to the China's National Meteorological Center (NMC).

It is expected that the lowest temperatures in Beijing will remain below -14 C through Thursday and that temperatures will remain below freezing throughout the following two weeks.

In Northeast China's Jilin Province, it is expected that temperatures in the eastern part of the province, the majority of Tonghua city, Baishan city, and Changbai Mountain National Nature Reserve will drop to -32 C, with some parts in the province even dropping to -35 C on Sunday and Monday.

Besides snow storms, the NMC has also forecast rainfall in multiple places, including the northern part of the Xinjiang region, the Jianghuai and Jiangnan regions and southern China.

China releases the first list of 789 important habitats for terrestrial wildlife animals to strengthen protection

China has recently released the first list of 789 important habitats for terrestrial wildlife animals in a bid to strengthen the protection of terrestrial wildlife populations and their habitats. The list covers 82.36 percent national key protected terrestrial wildlife species, according to China’s National Forestry and Grassland Administration (NFGA). 

Based on the importance of the terrestrial wildlife species in China, their population sizes, the significance of their habitat locations, and their special representativeness, the first list of important habitats for terrestrial wildlife is divided into six categories, including the survival and breeding area for rare and endangered species, as well as the distribution areas for wildlife clusters.  

These areas are spread across 31 provinces, regions and municipalities, covering the habitats, breeding grounds and migratory sites of 565 species of the national first- and second-class key protected wildlife animals including 127 mammal species, 339 bird species, 62 amphibian and reptile species, and 37 insect species.

According to the requirements under China’s Wildlife Protection Law that strengthens the protection of important wildlife habitats, the NFGA organized experts to collect the information and data of China’s wildlife resources obtained from the surveys conducted over the past two decades. 

The experts classified and sorted out the characteristics of the species’ natural distributions, population dynamics, and biological habits of the wildlife animals in China, and formulated the interim measures for the identification of important habitats for terrestrial wildlife animals. The interim measures determine the technical specifications for identification criteria, assessment procedures, file information, demarcation of scope and naming rules for important habitats of terrestrial wildlife. 

Through detailed analysis and evaluation, the first batch of important habitats for terrestrial wildlife was selected. Moving forward, the NFGA will further strengthen investigation, monitoring and assessment of areas where habitat conditions have continued to improve but have not been included in the list, and successively include those meet the relevant criteria into the list. 

In recent years, China has established a natural protected area system focused on the country’s national parks using nature reserves as its foundation and various natural parks as secondary sites.

This system has incorporated a large number of wildlife habitats into protected areas, ensuring the protection of wildlife habitats and promoting their continuous optimization. It has played a significant role in rescuing precious endangered wildlife and maintaining the development of wildlife populations. 

Cleaner energy

The first million-kilowatt-level offshore wind power project in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area goes into operation in Huizhou, South China's Guangdong Province, on December 12, 2023. The project can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 2.35 million tons per year, equivalent to reforestation of 6,750 hectares. Photo: VCG

Immersive experience exhibition displaying the art of grottoes held at the National Museum of China

Editor's Note:

An exhibition themed “Magnificence and Grandeur - Immersive Experience of Grotto Art” was open to the public at the National Museum of China on Saturday. The exhibition covers an area of approximately 1,500 square meters. Combining digital drawing, digital 3D mapping images and AI algorithm technology, artists present the rich meaning of the grottoes including Kizil Caves, Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes, Maijishan Grottoes, Yungang Grottoes and Longmen Grottoes. Photos: Li Hao/GT

Historic city writes new chapter in world’s youth engagement

While the world still remembers the big snowflake from the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, the Golden Sun Bird, logo of China Culture Heritage which symbolizes light, strength and hope, hovering over the main stadium of Dong'an Lake Sports Park at the opening ceremony of the FISU World University Games once again amazed a global audience. 

With the fireworks of Chengdu city flower hibiscus blossoming in the air, the 31st World University Summer Games opened in Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan province, on Friday. The historic city has added a fresh youthful imprint and wrote a new chapter in the world's youth engagement and exchanges.

Golden main stage, sun circle screen... In this grand event, "sunshine" was a creative element throughout the proceeding. With the theme of "Make dreams come true," the Chengdu World University Games strives to present a sunny opening ceremony to the world, showing the joy and style of young college students from all over the world gathering in Chengdu, bathing in the sunshine and accomplishing their dreams. It also calls on university students around the world to promote the realization of the common aspiration for peace and development of all mankind and to realize the common dream of building a global community with a shared future.

Guided by signboards made of Shu embroidery, university athletes entered the stadium. Colorful silk threads were projected onto the runway, forming a weaving "Silk Road," representing the bright future of the participating college athletes and the youth from all over the world.

The opening ceremony is centered on college students, reflecting the values of friendship, fraternity, fair play, perseverance, integrity, cooperation and application championed by FISU. During the athletes' entrance, a college student band performed live classical music from five continents, expressing their respect and love for the cultures and arts of all countries in the world, reflecting cultural exchanges, friendship and inner resonance.

Among the cast and volunteers of the opening ceremony, 99 percent of participants were college students, marking the start of one of the world's premier sporting events for young people.