With destructive wildfires raging across the country amid a severe drought, Australia on Tuesday experienced its hottest day on record as the national average maximum temperature reached an unprecedented 40.9°C (105.6°F).
“The driving force behind this is climate change.”
—Greg Mullins, former Fire and Rescue commissioner of New South Wales
“That was the national average temperature. Some places were far hotter,” tweeted meteorologist Eric Holthaus. “Truly, an unthinkable and unlivable reality. We are in a climate emergency.”
Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology announced the new record temperature Tuesday, noting that the previous high of 40.9°C (104.5°F) was set in January 2013.
Dean Narramore of the Bureau of Meteorology told the New York Times that Australia’s unprecedented heat is likely to get worse in the coming days as dry conditions continue.
“Friday looks like it will be a very bad day,” said Narramore. “All of this is connected. A record-late monsoon in India means the rain will be late coming to Australia, it’s the worst fire season we’ve seen across Australia, it’s warming through climate change, and it’s only the third week of summer.”
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