‘Endless record heat’ in Asia as highest April temperatures recorded

Record figures for month recorded in Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, China and South Asia

Asia is experiencing weeks of “endless record heat”, with sweltering temperatures causing school closures and surges in energy use.

Record April temperatures have been recorded at monitoring stations across Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, as well as in China and South Asia.

On Tuesday, four weather stations in Myanmar hit or matched record monthly temperatures, with Theinzayet, in eastern Mon state, reaching the highest, at 43C (109.4F). On Wednesday, Bago, north-east of Yangon, reached 42.2C, matching an all-time record previously recorded in May 2020 and April 2019, according to Maximiliano Herrera, a climatologist and weather historian.

There had been “endless record heat in south-east Asia, with weeks of records falling every day,” said Herrera.

In Thailand last weekend the authorities advised people in Bangkok and other areas of the country to stay home to avoid becoming ill. Temperatures hit 42C in the capital on Saturday, and the heat index – meaning what the temperature feels like combined with humidity – reached 54C.

Many still braved the sticky weather – sheltering under umbrellas and carrying fans to stay cool, or seeking respite in air-conditioned malls. In some areas, water has been sprinkled from apartment or university buildings, to ease temperatures and air pollution caused by seasonal agricultural burning.

Rain on Wednesday in Bangkok brought respite from the heat, and the authorities have said they believe the hot season has now peaked.

The hot weather has contributed to record electricity consumption in Thailand, with the country consuming more than 39,000 megawatts on 6 April – higher than the previous record of 32,000 megawatts in April last year.

In the Philippines, managing the heat is a particular challenge because the school calendar shifted during the pandemic, meaning students now spend the hottest months of the year in their classrooms. Hundreds of schools have switched to distance learning to prevent students from falling ill, while one teacher’s group has called for shorter teaching times and smaller class sizes to ease conditions.

Last month, more than 100 students were treated in hospital in Laguna, south-east of Manila, due to dehydration after taking part in a fire drill when temperatures were between 39C and 42C.

Globally, 2022 ranked as one of the hottest years on recorded, and the past eight years were collectively the hottest documented by modern science. It is believed that a return of the El Niño weather phenomenon this year will cause temperatures to rise even further.

“The poorest of the poor are going to [suffer] the most. Especially, it is devastating for the farming community, the people who are dependent on agriculture or fishing,” said Dr Fahad Saeed, regional lead for South Asia and the Middle East at Climate Analytics, a climate science policy institute.

“The heat is not foreign to this part of land,” he said, but added that temperatures were rising beyond the limits of people’s adaptability.

In Bangladesh, temperatures rose above 40C in the capital, Dhaka, earlier this month, marking the hottest day in 58 years and causing road surfaces to melt.

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (Icimod), an intergovernmental group, has raised particular concern about the impact of global heating on the Hindu Kush Himalaya region.

The region holds the third largest body of frozen water in the world, and is warming at double the global average, according to the Icimod. “In the most optimistic scenario, limiting global warming to 1.5C, the region stands to lose one third of its glaciers by 2100 – creating huge risk to mountain communities, ecosystems and nature and the quarter of humanity downstream,” said Deepshikha Sharma, a Climate and Environment Specialist at Icimod.

“Human-induced climate change is the major cause of the growing number and ferocity of heat-waves we’re seeing across Asia. These signal to the fact that the climate emergency is here for this region,” said Sharma, who called for faster emissions reductions and increased investment to help protect areas adapt.


Rebecca Ratcliffe in Bangkok

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Severe heatwave engulfs Asia causing deaths and forcing schools to close
Extreme temperatures described as ‘worst April heatwave in Asian history’ as records threatened in India, China, Thailand and Laos

Rebecca Ratcliffe in Bangkok and Hannah Ellis-Petersen in Delhi

19, Apr, 2023 @7:42 AM

Article image
China invests in south-east Asia for trade, food, energy and resources
Beijing's growing stake in Asean, the region's economic bloc, part of a calculated bid for greater military and political influence

Kate Hodal in Bangkok

22, Mar, 2012 @3:45 PM

Article image
Silence of the dissenters: How south-east Asia keeps web users in line

Vietnam, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines have all moved or are moving towards Chinese-style internet censorship

Ben Doherty in Bangkok

21, Oct, 2010 @3:56 PM

Article image
China divided on TV 'execution parade': judicial resolve or crude voyeurism

Two-hour broadcast showed four foreign prisoners being led to their deaths after being convicted of murdering Chinese sailors

Jonathan Kaiman in Beijing

01, Mar, 2013 @4:10 PM

Article image
Greater Mekong countries 'lost one-third of forest cover in 40 years'

Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand and Vietnam have lost nearly 40m ha of forest cover since 1980, a new report shows

John Vidal

02, May, 2013 @9:04 AM

Article image
Impact of deforestation on wildlife in the greater Mekong - in pictures

Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand and Vietnam could be left with little more than 10-20% of their original forest cover by 2030

02, May, 2013 @1:00 PM

Article image
Weather tracker: Vietnam and Laos set records for highest-ever temperatures
Records for countries broken just weeks after temperature in Thailand rose above 45C for the first time

Azure Prior (Metdesk)

08, May, 2023 @9:43 AM

Article image
‘A leader of the world’: south-east Asian countries open to Putin pivot
Only Singapore has imposed sanctions, while others have been receptive to Moscow’s offers of friendship

Rebecca Ratcliffe in Bangkok

09, Sep, 2022 @9:33 AM

Article image
'No way to stop it': millions of pigs culled across Asia as swine fever spreads
Experts say region is losing the battle to stop the biggest animal disease outbreak the planet has ever faced

Hannah Ellis-Petersen in Bangkok

06, Jun, 2019 @12:59 AM

Article image
Flying squirrel and eyeless spider discovered in Greater Mekong
Over 300 new species of animals, fish and plants found in the forests surrounding Mekong river in 2012-13, WWF says

Damian Carrington

04, Jun, 2014 @4:01 PM