A fire truck in the Deepwater National Park area of Queensland in November 2018. Photo: Rob Griffith/AFP/Getty Images

Australia has been stricken with long-lasting and widespread heat waves since November, and the record heat pushed the country's nationally averaged temperature for January to an all-time high since instrument records began there 110 years ago.

Why it matters: The heat waves, and ongoing severe flooding in northeastern Queensland, are the types of events climate scientists have tied to human-caused climate change. Heat waves and wildfires are projected to become more widespread and severe in Australia as the climate continues to warm.

"We saw heatwave conditions affect large parts of the country through most of the month, with records broken for both duration and also individual daily extremes," Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) senior meteorologist Andrew Watkins said in a statement.

"The warming trend which has seen Australian temperatures increase by more than 1 degree in the last 100 years also contributed to the unusually warm conditions," Watkins said.

By the numbers: With an average temperature that was 5.2°F (2.91°C) above the 1961–1990 average, this was the first time any month has topped 86°F (30°C), nationally.

  • It also beat the previous record-warmest January by nearly a full degree Celsius, an unusually large amount for such a milestone.
  • January was Australia's warmest month on record in terms of mean, maximum and minimum temperatures.
  • The 4 days from Jan. 12 to 15 were each among the top 10 hottest on record for the country as a whole, the BOM found.
  • Noona, located in New South Wales, set a record for the highest. minimum temperature ever recorded in Australia of 96.6°F (35.9°C) on Jan. 18. This means that for 24 hours, the temperature never dipped below that level.

"Both the scale and longevity of this persistent heat is unprecedented," the BOM stated. For example, the mean daily temperature for the country remained above the 1961-to-1990 average every day between Dec. 16, 2018 and at least Jan. 24, 2019, according to the BOM.

  • Port Augusta, in South Australia, reached 121.1°F (49.5 °C) on Jan. 24, a record for the site and the highest temperature recorded anywhere in Australia since 2013.
  • In Canberra, the country's capital, the high temperature reached or exceeded 104°F (40°C) for four straight days in mid-January.
  • The long-lasting heat and dry conditions have sparked wildfires and killed dozens of horses, camels and other animals.
  • Wildfires associated with the heat wave and dry conditions have burned hundreds of thousands of acres, particularly in Tasmania.

Between the lines: While detailed attribution studies have yet to be carried out on this ongoing event, the odds of extreme heat events have increased dramatically in recent years due to human-caused global warming.

For example, a study published in 2017 found that climate change has already increased the odds of record-breaking heat across more than 80% of the surface area of the globe for which reliable observations were available. That includes Australia.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Louisiana braces for 3rd hurricane in 2 months as Tropical Storm Zeta nears

Municipality workers clean the streets of garbage in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, on Tuesday that was left by Zeta, which struck the Yucatan Peninsula as a Category 1 Hurricane a day earlier — causing no major damage to infrastructure. Photo: Medios y Media/Getty Images

Tropical Storm Zeta is expected to strengthen back into a hurricane and bring dangerous storm surge conditions to parts of the northern Gulf Coast on Wednesday, per the National Hurricane Center.

The state of play: Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) requested a pre-landfall Federal Declaration of Emergency in a letter to President Trump on Tuesday, ahead of the storm's expected arrival south of New Orleans.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Obama: Trump is "jealous of COVID's media coverage" Axios-Ipsos poll: Federal response has only gotten worse.
  2. Health: Hospitals face a crush — 13 states set single-day case records last week.
  3. Business: Winter threat spurs new surge of startup activity.
  4. Media: Pandemic causes TV providers to lose the most subscribers ever.
  5. States: Nearly two dozen Minnesota cases traced to three Trump campaign events.
  6. World: Putin mandates face masks.
1 hour ago - Technology

Trump's campaign website hacked

A screenshot of the Trump campaign website after it was hacked.

The Trump campaign website briefly went down and its "About" page was modified after hackers attacked the site Tuesday evening.

The big picture: With just seven days before the election, the hackers emulated the FBI and declared on the "About" page that: "this was seized. the world has had enough of the fake-news spreaded [sic] daily by president donald j trump. it is time to allow the world to know truth." Two addresses linked to the cryptocurrency Monero appeared on the site. Trump campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh in a statement said no sensitive data had been exposed in the attack.

Go deeper: Twitter hack raises fears of an unstable election