There’s heat, and then there’s Australia heat. The country set a new record for its hottest day Tuesday as the average maximum temperature across Australia reached 40.9 degrees Celsius (105.6 degrees Fahrenheit). That’s 0.6 degrees Celsius (1.1 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than the previous record set in January 2013.
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology announced this new record on Twitter Tuesday, according to its preliminary figures. This record-breaking heat doesn’t come as a surprise, though. The agency expected as much, and it also expects the heat to “intensify” through Wednesday.
This type of widespread, blistering heat increases health risks. But it will also help the bushfires tearing through parts of the country. Southern Australia will especially feel the heat, but southeastern Australia faces a particularly high risk of feeling the burn as strengthening winds increase the fire danger in the region. People there have to stay on alert for the flames, but they also should keep an eye on the local air quality as smoke may increase air pollution in the coming days. Sydneysiders know that story all too well after choking on the most toxic air on the planet last week.
If you want to understand the depths of the climate crisis, Australia is a prime place to look. The country has warmed about 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) since 1910, with a sharp spike in temperatures in recent years. The country dealt with a similar dangerous heat wave around this time last year. That led to the country’s hottest month ever recorded. The heat building this time around may just soar past that record, but that’s nothing to celebrate. The bushfires being driven in part by the rising heat are releasing carbon pollution and make climate change worsen ensuring more human and ecological misfortune.
Update 1:35 p.m. ET: It appears Australia’s record was broken yet again Wednesday. According to meteorologist Ryan Maue, preliminary data shows the country’s average maximum temperature reached 41.7 degrees Celsius (107 degrees Fahrenheit). Can’t stop, won’t stop.