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China’s northernmost city experiences coldest temperature on record


On Sunday, China’s northernmost city, Mohe, saw the temperature drop to minus-63.4 degrees (minus-53 Celsius). This is the coldest temperature measured in the country in modern times, the local meteorological office confirmed.

Nestled near Russian Siberia, Mohe is an unusual place in China with a subarctic climate. While this city of nearly 85,000 people is generally chilly, the weekend chill was truly exceptional – around 36 degrees (20 degrees Celsius) below normal.

The low temperature was recorded by an automated temperature sensor; it surpassed the previous national record of minus-62.1 (minus-52.3 Celsius) from 1969.

Cold extremes like these have become rare in recent decades due to human-induced climate change. Global warming decreases the frequency and intensity of historic cold spells, but it does not eliminate them.

The historic cold in China contrasts sharply with its most extreme heat wave on record last summer.

Nearby weather stations also recorded extraordinarily low temperatures.

Another weather station in Mohe, staffed with an observer, recorded a low of minus-59.4 degrees (minus-50.8 Celsius). It was the coldest in China since 1969, tweeted climate historian Maximilien Herrera. Temperatures at this station fell to at least minus-58 degrees (minus-50 Celsius) for three consecutive nights for only the second time recorded.

At least 18 weather stations plunged to minus-58 degrees (minus-50 Celsius) or colder in China on Sunday morning, tweeted climate scientist Jim Yang. The cold has eased somewhat since then, but many readings of minus-40 degrees (minus-40 Celsius) or lower were seen on Monday.

Other places in China including Huzhong at minus-57.6 degrees (minus-49.8 Celsius) and Tahe at minus 54.2 degrees (minus-47.9 Celsius) as well broke records Saturday.

Extremely cold air also visited Eastern Siberia. The temperature in Aldan – a town of just over 20,000 people – dropped to minus 58 degrees (minus 50 degrees Celsius) over the weekend. This surpassed the city’s previous record of minus-55.7 degrees (minus-48.7 Celsius), after Etienne Kapikianmeteorologist at the French meteorological agency, Météo France.

The freezing air is now moving east. It is expected to spread to eastern China, Japan, the Korean Peninsula and parts of eastern Russia on Tuesday and Wednesday. In many of these places it will be the coldest weather this winter so far.

Temperatures are expected to drop between 5 and minus 13 degrees (minus 15 to minus 25 degrees Celsius) over eastern Asia, including the Korean peninsula. Japan is expected to see temperatures drop to a range of 23 to 5 degrees (minus-5 to minus-15 Celsius), and even lower in the mountains.

These predicted readings are about 36 degrees (20 degrees Celsius) below normal in East Asia and about 18 degrees (10 degrees Celsius) below normal in Japan.

“Japan will experience dangerous cold accompanied by heavy snowfall from Tuesday to Thursday,” tweeted Sayaka Mori, a meteorologist based in the country. “There are threats of frozen pipes, slippery roads and traffic disruptions across much of the country.”

This extreme cold follows a historic cold in Siberia in recent weeks.

Due to strong high pressure and a skirmish with the polar vortex, parts of Siberia fell as low as minus-80.9 degrees (minus-62.7 Celsius) on January 17. It was the coldest temperature in Russia since 2002 and the coldest in January since 1982, according to a climate expert Thierry Goose.

Siberia sees coldest air in two decades as temperature drops to minus 80

Although cold air has been mostly locked in the Siberian region in recent weeks, some has also reached parts of western and southern Europe as far as North Africa. There are signs that a significant amount of cold air could eventually enter North America by the end of the month, where it has missed much of winter.

Jason Samenow contributed to this report.

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