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SOURCE: The Guardian

DATE: February 1, 2019

SNIP: Australia sweltered through the hottest month in its history in January, spurring mass deaths of fish, fire warnings and concerns among climate scientists that extreme heat is hitting faster and harder than anticipated.

For the first time since records began, the country’s mean temperature in January exceeded 30C (86F), according to the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM), which said daily extremes – in some places just short of 50C – were unprecedented.

There’s been so many records it’s really hard to count,” said Andrew Watkins, a senior climatologist at BoM, after January registered Australia’s warmest month for mean, maximum and minimum temperatures.

This followed the country’s warmest December on record, with heatwaves in every Australian state and territory.

Climate change is the long-term driver. “The warming trend which has seen Australian temperatures increase by more than 1C in the last 100 years also contributed to the unusually warm conditions,” Watkins said.

The bureau’s monthly report said the heatwaves were unprecedented in their scale and duration. The highest temperatures of the month were recorded in Augusta on the south-west coast, where thermometers registered 49.5C , but the most relentless heat was in Birdsville, Queensland, which endured 10 consecutive days above 45C.