Extreme hot, cold waves torturing world

16:10, August 01, 2010      

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The northern hemisphere has been scorched by an ongoing heatwave since mid-June, while the southern half of the earth has witnessed intense cold and record snows. The abnormal weather has triggered social and environmental problems around the world.

Sustained high temperatures have posed serious public health hazard in many countries. In Japan alone, nearly 10,000 people were hospitalized and a record 57 died due to heat stroke from July 19 to July 25.

The unusual heat has triggered a number of forest fires in Russia. Fires in central Russian regions had burned down more than 900 houses and killed at least five people, the Russian Emergencies Ministry announced on Friday.

Moscow witnessed a record 37.7 degrees Celsius on Thursday, the hottest in 130 years. The city is covered in smog from forest and peat fires in areas surrounding the capital. Some residents are complaining about breathing problems.

The all-time high temperature brought about the worst drought and numerous forest fires across western and central Russia.

Water levels in Lake Baikal, the world's deepest and most voluminous freshwater lake as well as the natural laboratory for researchers, have dropped by more than one-third in July.

The ongoing heat is blamed for the drying up of the lake, said a report from Natural Resources Ministry of the Russian Federation released Wednesday.

The unprecedented hot summer has also increased wildfire risks in the capital region of Finland. Rescue department of Helsinki has received about 30 wildfire alarms in July.

The long heatspell has led to soaring electricity demand in Beijing. Last Monday, the city saw a record power consumption of 15.6 million kilowatts. A new record of 15.7 million kilowatts is expected in the coming days.

The widespread heatwave has driven up grain prices. Chicago wheat futures soars to near-14 month high as global crop outlook dims. The International Grains Council said Russia's wheat harvest will fall 19 percent to 50 million tons this year, blaming the record high temperature and persisting droughts.

Many traders believed that 40 percent of harvestable wheat crop in Russia will be destroyed.

While people in the northern hemisphere are suffering from sweltering heat, folks in southern hemisphere are shivering in freezing cold and extremely heavy snows.

According to Argentina's National Weather Service, Buenos Aires dropped to minus 1.5 degrees Celsius on July 16, the coldest the city has ever seen. The cold snap led to extremely low temperatures and widespread snowfalls across the country.

On Monday, four more people were reportedly died of cold, taking the hypothermia toll to 16. The other 12 deaths were due to carbon monoxide poisoning caused by heating.

Besides, Peru, Brazil and Chile, also witnessed record cold. The temperature in Peru has even plummeted to minus 20 degrees.

Meteorological experts blame global warming for this year's extreme weather, the persistent heat and cold waves are expected to continue.

Source: Xinhua

(Editor:祁澍文)

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