DAILY DOSE: Nations wilt under global heatwave; India’s rocket launch was a success, now comes the hard part.

Death Valley, historically the hottest place on Earth, approached some of the highest temperatures ever recorded on Sunday, marking an unusually hot summer affecting much of the globe. The National Weather Service reported temperatures of 128 degrees Fahrenheit (53.33 Celsius) at Furnace Creek. The highest temperature ever recorded is 134 F (56.67 C) at the same location in 1913. According to the World Meteorological Organization, increasing global warming makes such temperature extremes more probable. The intense heatwave comes alongside other extreme weather events in the U.S., including fatal flash floods in Pennsylvania and ongoing flooding in Vermont. Approximately a third of Americans are under heat advisories or warnings. Despite the harsh conditions, disruptions in California were minimal, with local governments setting up cooling centers and urging people to stay hydrated. Record-breaking heat has been recorded across the globe, from Europe to Asia, making 2023 a contender for the hottest year on record. Scientists attribute most of the record warming to human-caused climate change. (Associated Press)

A remote township in northwest China, Sanbao in Xinjiang’s Turpan Depression, experienced temperatures of over 52 degrees Celsius (126 Fahrenheit) on Sunday, breaking a previous record of 50.3 degrees Celsius set in 2015, according to state-run Xinjiang Daily. This heatwave comes six months after the country grappled with temperatures as low as minus 50 degrees Celsius. The record-breaking heat is expected to last for another five days, amid a backdrop of multiple rounds of record-breaking heat across Asia since April. These extreme weather events have raised concerns about the region’s ability to adapt to rapid climate changes and the feasibility of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Prolonged high temperatures are straining power grids and damaging crops in China, with fears of a potential repeat of last year’s severe drought. In parallel, the U.S. and China are reigniting efforts to combat global warming, with U.S. climate envoy John Kerry discussing with his Chinese counterpart in Beijing. (Reuters)

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On Sunday, Japan issued heatstroke warnings to tens of millions of residents as nearly record-breaking high temperatures, close to 40 degrees Celsius, affected many areas of the country, while torrential rain struck others. The government declared heatstroke alerts for 20 of Japan’s 47 prefectures, mostly in the east and southwest, affecting a large population. In Gunma Prefecture, north of Tokyo, the temperature reached 39.7 degrees Celsius, and 38.9 degrees Celsius in western Tokyo. Some areas experienced their highest temperatures in over four decades. Concurrently, heavy rain continued in northern Japan, causing flooding and landslides. One man was found dead in a submerged car in Akita Prefecture, one week after similar weather killed seven people in southwest Japan. The current extreme weather patterns align with the country’s annual rainy season, though scientists argue that climate change is exacerbating the risk of heavy rains due to increased atmospheric water capacity. (Japan Today)

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman agreed on Sunday to cooperate in sharing technology to support the decarbonization and economic diversification of Saudi Arabia while ensuring Japan’s continued access to Saudi oil. The two leaders initiated a “strategic dialogue” at the foreign minister level to deepen bilateral collaboration. This agreement entails Japan providing technologies to bolster Saudi Arabia’s solar power generation capabilities and to innovate in the use of hydrogen and ammonia as clean fuel sources. Japan, which imports nearly all its crude oil, relies on Saudi Arabia for about one-third of its total supply, making this collaboration crucial for energy security. Saudi Arabia aims to reduce its dependence on oil exports and strengthen its private-sector economy under its Vision 2030 economic reform blueprint, using Japanese technology to achieve these goals. The discussions also reaffirmed joint efforts to stabilize the global oil market, particularly in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. (Japan Today)

Russian scientists have predicted powerful solar flare activity for Monday, which may potentially disrupt short-wave communications. This warning follows the observation of three solar flares on Sunday. The Fedorov Institute of Applied Geophysics in Moscow anticipates the possibility of X-class flares, including proton flares, which could lead to the deterioration of short-wave radio conditions. X-class flares, the largest explosions in the solar system, can cause long-lasting radiation storms, while proton flares consist mainly of solar energetic particles. Solar flares, resulting from the reconnection of intense solar magnetic fields, can impact Earth’s magnetic field, potentially harming satellites and communication equipment. This prediction recalls an event in 2022 when a geomagnetic storm, caused by a significant radiation burst from the sun, destroyed 40 newly launched SpaceX satellites. The three solar flares observed on Sunday included one that lasted 14 minutes, causing disruption in radio communication. (Reuters)

India’s Chandrayaan-3 lunar mission launched on 14th July, marking the country’s third attempt at controlled landing on the moon. Deployed via a Launch Vehicle Mark III rocket from Sriharikota, the 3.9-tonne spacecraft will travel to an orbit around the moon carrying a lander-rover complex. Expected to soft-land near the moon’s south pole on 23 August, the 1.75-tonne Vikram craft carries the Pragyan rover, tasked with exploring the landing area for one lunar day. After a partially successful 2019 mission, ISRO implemented design changes in Chandrayaan-3, including new instruments, algorithms, heavier lander, larger solar panels, extra fuel, new sensors, and improved software. The lander hosts four instruments for lunar analysis, and the rover carries two for studying soil and rock samples. The mission aims to offer better understanding of the moon’s formation and history, resolve questions about lunar geology and temperature, and investigate elemental diversity at the landing site. (Nature)

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

WORDS: The Biology Guy. (@thebiologyguy)

IMAGE CREDIT: Mark Ramsay.

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