Extreme Heatwave In Australia Causes Roads To Melt

Adventurers wait out the midday heat in Southern Australia. Ilia Torlin/Shutterstock

While the East Coast of America finally recovers from a record-breaking cold-snap, Australia is baking in deadly temperatures a hemisphere away. 

Over the weekend, large areas of the Oceanic continent experienced dangerously high heat conditions. Wildfires, spread by hot dry winds, burned out of control in the State of New South Wales. 

The Penrith suburb of Sydney reportedly reached 47.3°C (117°F) on Sunday, making it the hottest day on record for that region, according to the Bureau of Meteorology, New South Wales.

The all-time record for the state was only a tad hotter at 47.8°C (118°F), occurring in 1939. To the southwest, Melbourne was measured at 40.1°C (104°F). 

The heat was so extreme that the asphalt began to melt in sections of a major highway in the state of Victoria. Images of the gooey tar were Tweeted by residents stuck in traffic along the road.

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Though large sections of Australia are covered in arid desert, this weather is far removed from normal fluctuations. The average high temperature for coastal cities like Melbourne and Adelaide range from the mid-to-high 20s in Celsius (high-70s to mid-80s in Fahrenheit) in January.

In a grim example of how such freakish weather can impact wildlife, an environmental charity documented a massive die-off of flying foxes in Campbelltown, New South Wales. Large numbers of the fruit-eating bats were observed falling from trees, dead or dying, unable to cope with the 38-degree heat.

Since 2000, Australia has set an alarming number of high temperature records and seen a decrease in the frequency of cold weather spells. The bad news doesn't end there. Data from multiple agencies confirm that the nation’s climate will continue to warm, possibly experiencing 50°C (122°F) summer days by 2040.

For context, 50 degrees Celcius is around 10 degrees higher than the temperature at which human enzymes (the proteins that make everything in your body happen) begin to break down.

The overall pattern of increased extreme weather events has been definitively linked to man-made climate change by numerous reports, such as this one released during the Obama administration in 2014. 

Meanwhile, the current President demonstrated his grasp of climate science with this tweet:

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