It’s been so hot in parts of Australia that the government was forced to change its weather map scale.
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology on Tuesday unveiled a new map that features a deep purple and pink color to account for temperatures over 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) and extended the range to 54 degrees Celsius (129.2 degrees Fahrenheit).
“The scale has just been increased today, and I would anticipate it is because the forecast coming from the bureau’s model is showing temperatures in excess of 50 degrees,” bureau climate monitoring chief David Jones told The Age newspaper.
In recent days, temperatures across central Australia have reached 40 to 48 degrees Celsius (104 degrees to 118.4 degrees Fahrenheit), while the all-time record temperature recorded in the country was 50.7 degrees Celsius at Oodnadatta Airport in South Australia in 1960.
“The current heat wave—in terms of its duration, its intensity and its extent—is unprecedented in our records,” Jones told the Sydney Morning Herald.
On Monday, Australia set a new record for the national average temperature, at 40.33 degrees Celsius (104.5 degrees Fahrenheit). Jones said Tuesday might be even hotter, according to the Age.
This coming Saturday, the bureau’s map predicts that temperatures will reach upwards of 50 degrees, potentially allowing for the pink and purple colors to be used.
Jones said that there is limited monitoring in much of central Australia. “The air mass over the inland is still heating up—it hasn’t peaked,” Jones told the paper, suggesting that the 1960 record could still be broken.
“The heat over central Australia is not going to go anywhere,” he said, adding that “we know the air mass is hot enough to challenge the Oodnadatta record.”
High and dry temperatures have provided ideal conditions for wildfires, which have been burning across New South Wales, Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory, and Tasmania, reported the Australia Broadcasting Corporation. Two homes were destroyed in one fire in central Victoria on Tuesday, and more than 100 homes were destroyed in Tasmania over the weekend.
There has been increasing speculation that climate change is at least partially to blame for the Australian heat wave.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said: “Whilst you would not put any one event down to climate change, weather doesn’t work like that, we do know over time that as a result of climate change we are going to see more extreme weather events and conditions,” according to AFP.
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