Mohe is China’s North Pole. It is China’s northernmost city, and it is very, very cold.
It is difficult to describe how temperatures so low feel.
It reached -53C on Sunday, , a new record for lowest temperature ever recorded within the country since modern monitoring began.
China’s National Meteorological Centre confirmed that it has broken the long-held record of 52.3C, which was set in 1969.
The cold air in your throat is so thick that it causes discomfort in your lungs.
You feel a strange feeling of freezing around any area of your body that has moisture. It is like your eyes are closing in on you.
Even if your fingers are covered with thinner gloves, frostbite can occur in minutes.
Our devices’ batteries were draining abnormally fast.
We had to make sure we spent only a few minutes outside at a time, and that we always had a warm place to go.
There are also some fun parts. A cup of boiling water dropped in the air freezes almost immediately and crashes to ground as frozen gobbles.
This is one reason why Chinese tourists flock to China.
Mohe is found at the top of a narrower section of China which protrudes into Russia. It is often exposed from Siberia to the harsh air that travels south.
It is approximately 1,500 miles north from Beijing, which is considered quite far north.
It is a beautiful, snow-covered area, where about 85,000 people live. They work in a variety of industries, including tourism and farming.
Some residences are modern and well-equipped while others are older-fashioned and heated with small coal burners.
Mohe heating companies have reported that the boilers are operating at maximum power to keep people warm in winter. Beijing News also reported that the city’s coal consumption has increased by one-third.
Extreme temperatures are not uncommon in this area, but they are about 15-20 degrees below the average. This raises familiar questions about the increase in extreme weather events and their causes.
Part frontier outpost, part tourist town
Beiji is a village located an hour further north. You will need a ticket to get in to this strange place. It feels like a part frontier outpost, part tourist town.
Beiji’s name literally means “north pole” and is also a great attraction. A fence runs across the border of a large frozen river, and you can see the Russian rocky hills beyond.
It is a difficult task to get to Mohe.
As soon as you board the sleeper train, you feel like you are going to some very dark and remote place.
It is an old, rickety, and charming thing. All six people can sleep on the sleeping bunks, which are open to the corridor.
The condensation builds up around the windows and forms an ice lining. This is hours before we arrive at our destination.
Here, tourists mix with locals. We were there during the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday. It was jam-packed.
The 15-hour train was only the final leg of our journey. We had to fly two hours north of Beijing, then travel by train to get to this train. This gives you an idea of how far north Mohe is.
“You can’t fight for heaven”
It can be very, very cold in this area. Therefore, the locals have come to expect it. Tourists arrive here completely unprepared for what they will find.
The small convenience store and gift shop that Mr Xie owns overlooks the Russian border. One of his items for sale is a small bed, stove, and wood burner.
We asked him about the experience at -53C.
He stated, “There is smoke. From a distance of a few meters, you can’t see any one. The smoke, which we call smoke, but it’s really heavy fog, disappeared until noon. When it gets cold, smoke appears.
“You cannot fight against heaven. We can only take the best measures that we can. It’s okay as long as it isn’t cold.
We asked you to be calm.
“We can’t do much, but we shouldn’t be worried. Humans can’t defeat natural disasters. Countries can’t defeat natural disasters, let alone individuals. He said that there was no way to defeat natural disasters.
Cold spell from Siberia
The cold spell is caused by very cold low-pressure wind moving south from Siberia. It is far away from the warmth of the sea, and receives very little sunlight that it allows for the creation extra cold air.
Normally, the air circulation is restricted by wind patterns. However, if there is a weakness in the system, the freezing air can break out. This happened during the 2018 ‘Beast from the East’ across the British Isles.
However, even in Russian Siberia they are more often subject to cold spells.
It is usually very cold up there. This week, temperatures were on average 10-15 degrees Celsius lower than normal.
Climate change and its role
Although you cannot directly attribute each event to climate change without additional research, it is certain that this region is experiencing more extreme weather events.
Research shows that extreme cold spells can be caused by climate change.
Scientists believe that the warming oceans in the Arctic regions north of Russia could have a destabilizing effect on the air at the stratosphere (the body of air between 10km to 50km above the surface of the earth).
They claim that this can lead to extreme cold spells in low-lying regions.
China’s extreme weather
China’s weather has experienced extremes over the past six to eight month.
The country was struck by heatwaves and drought records in the summer. These were the worst since records began.
In fact, it was the hottest summer/autumn in 60 years. Multiple cities broke records. Average rainfall dropped by 23%, and the country was hit hard with severe forest fires that damaged crops and reduced power supply.
The Great Yangtze River’s vast stretches dried up, which affected industries ranging from shipping to hydropower.
China is one of the largest investors in clean energy worldwide, but it still depends on a large coal mining industry, which contributes significantly to global greenhouse gas emissions.
Many Chinese people just go about their daily lives. However, some, especially those who have been through these extreme weather events, have noticed changes and are worried.
It is home to 1.4 billion people and a wide range of climates.
Although large weather variations are normal and expected here, extreme weather events in rapid succession can be alarming.