Australia has been sweltering in a second severe heatwave this month. Temperatures have reached 21.6 F degrees higher than average as a heat wave spread across the continent. The unbearable heat will be plaguing Australia for at least several more days warns the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
Records fell throughout Australia as the country experienced the hottest ten days in a row on record. One town, Noona, had the warmest overnight temperature in Australian history. Agriculture and livestock are suffering from the heat where stone fruit is burning from the inside out and drought widespread. Roads are melting too.
Australia is in the midst of a scorching heat wave this week that has set all-time temperature records in what has been four of its most sweltering days in history.
Humans can stay indoors in the air conditioning, but not wildlife and livestock. They are experiencing a rising death toll from increasing heatwaves due to climate change. Their bodies just can’t cool off.
In one state, officials are pumping oxygen into rivers and lakes as fish kills explode in number.
Mother Board reports on the rising toll to bats from climate change driven heat waves.
Almost one third of a bat population in eastern Australia was killed over the course of just two days of November of 2018, when a heat wave in eastern Australia devastated the Queensland region and temperatures were as high as 108 degrees Fahrenheit. Climate change makes heat waves like this one disproportionately more likely.
An estimated 23,000 to 30,000 spectacled flying fox bats perished during the heat wave, which lasted from November 26 to 27, according to the BBC. Some media reports alleged that once the temperatures exceeded 104 degrees Fahrenheit, bats literally started falling out of trees. David White, a wildlife rescuer from Australia, told the BBC that the event was "totally depressing.”
Justin Welbergen from Australia’s Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment told Australian outlet ABC.net that the event was likely the second-largest mass die-off for the species, which have been listed as “vulnerable” in the country since 1999. In 2014, as many as 100,000 spectacled flying fox bats died, also during a heat wave.
The late-November Australian heat wave also caused more than 80 intense brush fires, and coincided with a series of dust storms that swept across the Queensland region. It’s worth noting that desertification—the process of places becoming more dusty, dry, and desert-like over time—is exacerbated by climate change.
Climate change makes monster heat waves like this one disproportionately more likely. When the air gets hotter, it’s able to hold more water, and humid air makes heat waves more likely. Australia specifically, which is already prone to heat waves, is vulnerable to "more frequent, hotter, and longer" heat waves.
The BBC reports that these heat waves are certainly causing die-offs for other wildlife. The flying fox deaths are easy to document as they reside in urban areas and their deaths noticed.
Flying foxes are no more sensitive to extreme heat than some other species, experts say.
But because they often gather in urban areas in large numbers, their deaths can be more conspicuous, and easily documented.
"It raises concerns as to the fate of other creatures who have more secretive, secluded lifestyles," Dr Welbergen says.
He sees the bats as the "the canary in the coal mine for climate change".
"It is clear from the present data that these [heat] events are having a very serious impact on the species," Dr Welbergen says. "And it's clear from climate change projections that this is set to escalate in the future."
Experts have long been concerned about the survival of spectacled flying foxes.
Its population has more than halved in the past decade, says Dr David Westcott, who chairs the government's National Flying Fox Monitoring Programme.
In the past, mass deaths in the population were often associated with cyclones. But in recent years heatwaves have become a bigger risk, Dr Westcott says.
"We're very concerned. It's been a massive population decline for a species that isn't under a great deal of pressure outside of these weather events," he tells the BBC.
Australian Climate Scientists are migrating and they explain why in this video.
Here’s How the Shutdown Is Delaying Climate Data and Undercutting Scientists
If you want official numbers on how 2018 ranks in the annals of recent record-breaking temperatures, you’ll have to wait.
One result of the government shutdown, now in its fourth week, is that NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are unable to issue their annual temperature analysis. And, because that data is so widely used, neither can some other governments.
For example, Britain’s national weather and climate monitoring service, the Met Office, publishes its own global temperature estimates that incorporate NOAA data but use a slightly different analytical method. That’s important because when many different analyses show the same trend — in this case, rising global temperatures — it helps give researchers confidence that their work is sound. But, the NOAA data that the Met Office needs is currently offline.