Australia recorded its hottest month ever in January, with average 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, bush fires and a rise in hospital admissions. It also led to the death of more than 90 wild horses.
The new record surpasses conditions recorded in 2013, previously considered the nation’s worst heatwave.
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“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.
The fortnight of extreme heat also resulted in the death of up to a million fish in the drought-affected state of New South Wales.