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Australia recorded its hottest month ever in January, with mean temperatures exceeding 30C (86F) for the first time.
The extreme heat, during the country’s summer period, was “unprecedented”, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.
At least five January days were among the 10 warmest on record, with daily national temperature highs of 40C.
The blistering conditions caused wildfire deaths, bushfires and a rise in hospital admissions. It also led to the death of more than 90 wild horses.
The mean is the average between the average coldest temperature and average hottest temperature.
“We saw heatwave conditions affect large parts of the country through most of the month,” climatologist Dr Andrew Watkins said.
Records were broken for both duration and also individual daily extremes, he said. Rainfall was also below average for most areas.
Australia has increasingly endured hotter summer temperatures. Last year, Sydney sweltered at 47.3C – its hottest day since 1939.
“The warming trend which has seen Australian temperatures increase by more than one degree in the last 100 years also contributed to the unusually warm conditions,” Dr Watkins said.
This comes at a time when across the Pacific, temperatures have plunged to -37C (-35F) in parts of North America due to a polar vortex.