Publication Date December 18, 2019

Australia Records Its Hottest Day. At Least for Now.

Fighting fires northwest of Sydney. Credit: Dean Lewins/EPA

Signals Summary: Global warming has amplified the intensity, duration and frequency of extreme heat and heat waves, which can cause significant health problems

Article Excerpt: A national heat wave, triggered by a confluence of meteorological factors that extends well beyond Australia’s shores, pushed high temperatures across the country on Tuesday to an average of 105.6 degrees, or 40.9 degrees Celsius, breaking the record of 104.5, or 40.3 Celsius, set on Jan. 7, 2013.


As the temperatures have risen, so has the threat of fires, which have ravaged large swathes of the country and shrouded Sydney in smoke.

Late monsoons in India, an imbalance in sea temperatures in the Indian Ocean and strong winds have hampered rainfall in Australia. The country was already in the grip of a yearslong drought.


Nine of Australia’s 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 2005, with last year the third hottest. As the country bakes and burns, the government has come under criticism for refusing to actively address climate change through sharper emissions cuts.