The length, extent and severity of the current Australian heatwave is unprecedented in the measurement record.
Although Australia has always had heatwaves, hot days and bushfires, climate change is increasing the risk of more frequent and longer heatwaves and more extreme hot days, as well as exacerbating bushfire conditions.
Climate change has contributed to making the current extreme heat conditions and bushfires worse.
Good community understanding of climate change risks is critical to ensure we take appropriate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to put measures in place to prepare for, and respond to, extreme weather.
Australia is a land of extremes. As global temperature rises, very hot days are becoming more frequent and heatwaves are becoming more prolonged across many parts of Australia.
The heatwave affecting Australia in late December and early January brought extreme heat to most of the Australian continent over a sustained period. Temperatures above 40°C and 45°C were unprecedented in their extent across the continent, breaking new records for Australian averaged maximum temperatures. The heat was also unprecedented in its duration.
The Climate Commission has received questions from the community and media seeking to understand the link between climate change and the very unusual weather. This document provides a summary of the influence of climate change on Australia's temperature and extreme heat events.
Understanding the link between heat extremes and climate change is important because efforts today to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will influence the severity of these types of events in the future. Having a good understanding of climate change risks can ensure that we take appropriate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to put measures in place to prepare for, and respond to, more extreme weather.