BEIJING, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) -- The northern hemisphere has been scorched by an ongoing heatwave since mid-June, while the southern half of the earth has witnessed intense cold and record snows. The abnormal weather has triggered social and environmental problems around the world.
Sustained high temperatures have posed serious public health hazard in many countries. In Japan alone, nearly 10,000 people were hospitalized and a record 57 died due to heat stroke from July 19 to July 25.
The unusual heat has triggered a number of forest fires in Russia. Fires in central Russian regions had burned down more than 900 houses and killed at least five people, the Russian Emergencies Ministry announced on Friday.
Moscow witnessed a record 37.7 degrees Celsius on Thursday, the hottest in 130 years. The city is covered in smog from forest and peat fires in areas surrounding the capital. Some residents are complaining about breathing problems.
The all-time high temperature brought about the worst drought and numerous forest fires across western and central Russia.
Water levels in Lake Baikal, the world's deepest and most voluminous freshwater lake as well as the natural laboratory for researchers, have dropped by more than one-third in July.
The ongoing heat is blamed for the drying up of the lake, said a report from Natural Resources Ministry of the Russian Federation released Wednesday.