Heat-stricken Korea struggling with drought, environmental damage
South Korea has been hit by a prolonged dry spell and a serious heat wave for 19 consecutive days, the state weather agency said Wednesday.
Since the sweltering heat began after a rainy season that was shorter than the year before, the cumulative rainfall in the country from July 21 to Monday totaled 7.6 millimeters, a mere 5.9 percent of the previous year’s 128.8 mm, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA).
The lack of rainfall has left farms in many parts of the country at risk of crop damage, with the average supply of agricultural water dropping to 59.8 percent on Tuesday, which is 20 percent lower than last year, the KMA said.
Amid the protracted drought, South Korea has been coping with unusually high temperatures in recent weeks.
The mercury soared above 33 C in most regions on Tuesday, according to KMA officials, and in Seoul, even nighttime temperatures stayed above 25 C for a record-breaking 12 straight nights.
With the scorching heat as well as the ongoing drought, the nation is on high alert as algal blooms on major rivers and lakes are spreading rapidly, threatening public health and drinking water.
Green algae has emerged as a serious environmental issue since late June, and the Seoul city government is even contemplating issuing an algae alert after finding that the green tides have spread to the upper streams of the Han River, the source of drinking water for the capital city.
The Ministry of Environment said it expects the algae outbreaks to subside later this week, when temperatures are forecast to drop with light rain showers during the weekend.