The Extinction Chronicles

An impartial record of articles and events leading up to the end…

The Extinction Chronicles

“People’s lives are more important”: Abbotsford mayor urges farmers to leave animals

Darcy Matheson|Nov 16 2021, 10:12 pm


"People's lives are more important": Abbotsford mayor urges farmers to leave animalsAerial footage of farm flooding in Abbotsford, BC / Sophia Middleton

As the city of Abbotsford grapples with catastrophic flooding and warns of “significant risk to life” as it faces a potential water pump failure, the mayor is urging farmers in hard-hit areas to leave livestock behind and get out immediately.ADVERTISEMENT

Abbotsford, in the heart of BC’s Fraser Valley, is a major hub for agriculture in the province, with many large scale dairy, livestock and poultry operations.  Those operations can contain thousands of animals — one single chicken farm can house more than 15,000 birds, for instance — and many are in the Sumas Prairie, which is largely submerged after an “atmospheric river” resulted in widespread flooding.

Residents in the low-lying Sumas Prairie were ordered to leave on Tuesday morning. Around 1,200 people have evacuated, however, around 300 people have not, according to the city.Abbotsford flooding

Aerial footage of farms submerged in Abbotsford, BC / Sophia Middleton

It is unclear how many of the people staying put are farmers, but at a late night press conference Mayor Harry Braun made a direct appeal.

“Get out of the area. I know it’s hard for farmers to leave their livestock, but people’s lives are more important to me right now than livestock or chickens,” he said.

Braun says he understands how farmers would want to stay behind and protect what they’ve spent their whole lives building, but he says people need to get out now.

“Nothing is more important than saving a life.”

“Please heed the evacuation orders and leave tonight. Tomorrow morning may be too late.”

Pictures and video captured by photographer Jesse Winter showed farmers physically swimming through floodwaters with their livestock, and some cows being led to higher ground by Jet-Skis and boats.

Little, if any, information has been shared by officials on how many animals are affected by the flooding in the Fraser Valley, although it is most certainly in the thousands — or hundreds of thousands — when considering the scale of modern day operations in the region.ADVERTISEMENT

The BC SPCA told Daily Hive it has offered shelter to animals affected by floods in the Fraser Valley. However, a senior officer said the agency has been “restricted” in its movements today and its own staff in the area are also dealing with flooding.

Besides the animal welfare concerns, there are questions about how the supply of dairy products will be affected. Approximately 50% of dairy products produced in the province come from Abbotsford.

Water station situation

Water was turned off at 9 pm over a current water main breach, and a potentially catastrophic event could take place if the pumps go down at the Barrowtown Pump Station.ADVERTISEMENT

The city needs more pumps immediately Braun said, with the fire chief adding that some may be air lifted in later tonight, or tomorrow. Matheson+ FOLLOW

What is an atmospheric river and how long will it soak Western Washington?

by Alfred Charles, Executive ProducerThursday, November 11th 2021

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Radar Thursday afternoon shows a line of moisture moving into Western Washington that will dump heavy rain on Seattle. 90% Radar Thursday afternoon shows a line of moisture moving into Western Washington that will dump heavy rain on Seattle.

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A system that is expected to dump several inches of rain on an already soggy Seattle area is expected to raise the risk of flooding for much of Puget Sound, starting Thursday and lasting well into Friday night.

KOMO News meteorologist Shannon O’Donnell said we can thank an atmospheric river for the additional precipitation, which she said is defined as “a long plume of moisture that carries copious amounts of precipitation from the subtropics toward the mid and upper latitudes. Heavy, warm rain, especially when combined with melting snow, can quickly lead to severe river flooding.”

Medium Pacific Satellite

And there is a specific type of atmospheric river, known as a Pineapple Express.

“It is a specific type of atmospheric river that tends to be rooted close to the Hawaiian Islands,” O’Donnell said, adding that it brings warmer air to the region instead of colder conditions. Low temperatures Thursday night were expected to only drop to the low 50s with highs on Friday expected to reach the upper 50s.

According to O’Donnell, between 4 and 5 inches of rain could fall in the Snoqualmie River Valley and Seattle could see rainfall up to 2 1/2 inches through Friday.

Moderate to major river flooding is expected from the system. More forecast information can be found here.

National Weather Service meteorologist Jacob DeFlitch said there is nothing out of the ordinary with the drenching rains that are in the forecast.

Seattle Rainfall Stats

“November is generally our rainy season,” he said. “It’s kind of usual to see these type of events.”

Because the ground is already soggy from the rainfall earlier in the week, the risk of rapidly rising river levels is enhanced, DeFlitch said.

Western Europe Can Expect More Heavy Rainfall And Fatal Floods As The Climate Warms

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August 27, 20215:00 AM ET


Destroyed houses are seen in Schuld, Germany, on July 15 after devastating floods hit the region.Michael Probst/AP

Heavy rainfall and catastrophic flooding events like those that hit Western Europe last month will be more frequent and intense due to climate change, a new scientific study says.

From July 12-15, heavy rainfall led to severe flooding that killed more than 200 people in Germany and Belgium, and caused billions of dollars worth of damage.

The World Weather Attribution initiative, an international group of climate scientists behind the report, said July’s historic rainfall was 1.2 to 9 times more likely to happen due to global warming.

The researchers used peer-reviewed scientific methods to examine how human-induced climate change affected rainfall events in Europe this summer.

Climate change increased the rainfall intensity

People check for victims in flooded cars on a road in Erftstadt, Germany, on July 17 following heavy rainfall that broke the banks of the Erft river, causing massive damage.Michael Probst/AP

Using historical records going back to the late 19th century and computer simulations, the researchers studied how temperatures affected rainfall in Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands.

They found climate change increased the amount of rain that can fall in one day in the region by 3 – 19%, when compared to a climate 1.2 degrees Celsius cooler (2.2 degrees Fahrenheit) than it is now. The increase is similar for a rainstorm that happens across two days.Article continues after sponsor message

During the rainstorms that hit the region last month, Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, a town in Germany, received two months’ worth of rain in just two days.

As the planet continues to warm, the likelihood and strength of extreme weather events are likely to increase further, the study added.


Three (Hopeful!) Takeaways From The UN’s Climate Change Report

This report further supports the concept that the effects of climate change will become worse as time goes on, if humans don’t make deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions soon.

These findings follow a major report from the United Nations that said global climate change is accelerating, and humans are the overwhelming cause.

Extreme weather events have wreaked havoc all over the world this summer. This month deadly floods hit Tennessee and wildfires have swept across the U.S. West Coast and Europe, destroying parts of Greece, Turkey, Italy, and Spain. Fires have also erupted in Russia’s northern Siberia region.

‘What can we do?’ Chinese discuss role of climate crisis in deadly floods

Media and citizens have begun asking if China has properly prepared for climate emergency

People ride in the front of a loader to cross a flooded street in Zhengzhou, Henan province
People ride in the front of a loader to cross a flooded street in Zhengzhou, Henan province. Photograph: Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images

Vincent Ni China affairs correspondentMon 26 Jul 2021 11.19 EDT

At about 5pm last Tuesday, as heavy rainfall continued to pound her apartment building in Zhengzhou, the climate policy researcher Zhang Jin headed out to her local supermarket. But the buns and vegetables were all gone, and the queue in the supermarket was “over a hundred metres’ long”, she later recalled.

<img src="" alt="China Henan Xinxiang Rainfall Rescue – 22 Jul 2021

After learning that some of her relatives were trapped elsewhere in the city, she decided to drive out to help them. But she was surprised to discover other drivers abandoning their vehicles. Zhang realised something was very wrong, and turned back.

“Even though I have knowledge of climate change, I wasn’t fully aware that natural disasters triggered by climate change could arrive at any time,” the 32-year-old said. “Let alone non-specialists [in climate], or government officials.”

The Chinese government appears to have been caught equally by surprise. Heavy rains and floods in the past week have so far cost at least 63 lives in one of China’s most agriculture-focused and populous provinces, Henan, affecting more than 11 million people, many of them in Zhengzhou, the provincial capital. The government estimated the economic cost to be at least ¥65bn (£7.3bn).

Sinkholes have opened on some road surfaces, raising concerns about the quality of their construction, while others have questioned the disaster response.

A flooded street sinks into a hole at Mihe town on July 21, 2021 in Gongyi, Henan Province of China. Mihe town in Gongyi city, which is administered by Zhengzhou, is one of the hardest-hit areas
A sinkhole in a flooded street in Gongyi, Henan province. Photograph: VCG/Getty Images

Local meteorological authorities claimed that they had issued the highest-level alert. However, China had yet to develop a coordinated emergency response mechanism for such situations, said Cheng Xiaotao, a member of the China national committee on disaster reduction.Advertisement

“For example, after the warnings, under what circumstance should we halt work and manufacturing? How should various [government] departments coordinate with each other?  How to despatch various disaster relief resources? And what are the actual emergency actions to take in response?” Cheng asked in Chinese media.

The media and ordinary citizens have begun to discuss the role of the climate crisis in the disaster, and asking to what extent the government is prepared for future climate emergencies.

Shortly after the heavy rainfall made national headlines, official Chinese media outlets began to publish articles asking whether the floods, and recent disasters elsewhere in the world, were related to the climate crisis.

“As extreme weather occurs in many parts of the world of late, is there anything common behind them?” asked an article published on Thursday on several official Chinese-language websites, including the official news agency Xinhua and the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. “What can we do when facing such natural disasters?”

Quoting Petteri Taalas, the secretary general of the World Meteorological Organisation, the article noted: “Had it not been [for] climate change, we wouldn’t have observed such high temperatures in Canada and on the west coast of the United States. This is an obvious sign of climate change.”

The next day, Jia Xiaolong, the deputy head of the national climate centre, told China News Agency that the heavy rainfalls in Henan occurred “against the backdrop of global warming”.Advertisement

“This year, whether it’s in China or elsewhere in the world, the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events are all closely related to global warming,” he said.

It is not the first time Jia spoke of the danger of the climate crisis. Last summer, he told the national broadcaster CCTV that extreme weather events “will occur more frequently in China as a result of global warming – something the country is particularly vulnerable to”.

People wade across a flooded street in the city of Zhengzhou in China’s Henan province.

Awareness of the climate emergency has been growing in China over the last decade, in part due to Beijing’s involvement in high-profile international initiatives such as the Paris agreement. In a China Center for Climate Change Communication survey in 2012, 55% of the respondents said the climate crisis was mostly caused by human activities. In 2017, 75.2% believed they had already experienced impacts of the climate emergency, and nearly 80% were worried about it.

But to Zhang, last week’s massive flooding and its devastating human costs – which some Chinese media have described as “unseen in 1,000 years” – is a reminder that the impact of extreme weather events can only be minimised with a better emergency response mechanism and the public’s engagement.

“It’s absolutely necessary to strengthen the public’s knowledge [of the climate crisis],” she said. “We cannot wait until the arrival of disasters to face them.”

Himalayan glacier breaks in India, around 125 missing in floods


People walk past a destroyed dam after a Himalayan glacier broke and crashed into the dam at Raini Chak Lata
A view shows damage after a Himalayan glacier broke and crashed into a dam at Raini Chak Lata
A view of damaged dam after a Himalayan glacier broke and crashed into the dam at Raini Chak Lata
A view of damaged dam after a Himalayan glacier broke and crashed into the dam at Raini Chak Lata
Himalayan glacier bursts in India

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Himalayan glacier breaks in India, around 125 missing in floods

People walk past a destroyed dam after a Himalayan glacier broke and crashed into the dam at Raini Chak LataDevjyot Ghoshal and Manoj KumarSat, February 6, 2021, 11:42 PM

By Devjyot Ghoshal and Manoj Kumar

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Around 125 people were missing in northern India after a Himalayan glacier broke and swept away a small hydroelectric dam on Sunday, with floods forcing the evacuation of villages downstream.

A wall of dust, rock and water hit as an avalanche roared down the Rishiganga valley deep in the mountains of Uttarakhand, a witness said.- ADVERTISEMENT -

“It came very fast, there was no time to alert anyone,” Sanjay Singh Rana, who lives on the upper reaches of the river in Raini village, told Reuters by phone. “I felt that even we would be swept away.”

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat said 125 people were missing but the number could rise. So far, the bodies of seven people had been recovered.

The disaster took place around 500 km (310 miles) north of New Delhi.

Uttarakhand is prone to flash floods and landslides and the disaster prompted calls by environment groups for a review of power projects in the ecologically sensitive mountains.

Earlier state chief secretary Om Prakash said 100 to 150 people were feared dead. A large number of the missing were workers at the 13.2 MW Rishiganga Hydroelectric Project which was destroyed by the bursting of the glacier.

Footage shared by locals showed the water washing away parts of the Rishiganga dam and everything else in its path. At least 180 sheep were washed away.

Videos on social media, which Reuters could not immediately verify, showed water surging through a small dam site, washing away construction equipment.

Twelve people who had been trapped in a tunnel had been rescued and efforts were under way to save others caught in another tunnel, the federal home ministry said after a meeting of the National Crisis Committee, comprising top officials.

“India stands with Uttarakhand and the nation prays for everyone’s safety there,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter.

State utility NTPC said the avalanche had damaged a part of its Tapovan Vishnugad hydropower plant that was under construction further down the river. It gave no details but said the situation is being monitored continuously.

Story continues:

Sudan declares state of emergency as record flooding kills 99 people

Floods caused by heavy seasonal rains have damaged more than 100,000 homes, says minister

A barricade against flood waters in Tuti island, where the Blue and White Nile merge in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.
 A barricade against flood waters in Tuti island, where the Blue and White Nile merge in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. Photograph: Ashraf Shazly/AFP/Getty Images

Sudan has declared a three-month state of emergency after flooding that has killed 99 people this year, according to the country’s state news agency.

The Sudanese minister of labour and social development said that in addition to the deaths, the floods had affected more than half a million people, injuring 46, and had damaged more than 100,000 homes.

Much of the flooding was triggered by heavy seasonal rains, mainly in neighbouring Ethiopia, which caused the Nile River to rise to nearly 17.5 metres (about 57ft) at the end of August – the highest level in 100 years, according to the authorities.

The rates of floods and rain for this year exceeded the records set in 1946 and 1988, with expectations of continued rising indicators, Lena el-Sheikh added.

The states of Khartoum, Blue Nile and River Nile are among the hardest-hit by the floods, while damage has also been reported in the Gezira, Gadarif, West Kordofan and South Darfur regions, according to the UN.

The UN said it was supporting the national response with emergency shelter and household supplies, together with water, sanitation and hygiene assistance, food, health services and vector control.

The UN reported that it was able to respond quickly as supplies to meet the needs of 250,000 people had been pre-positioned before the rains started.

But with stocks “being depleted rapidly”, the UN is calling for wider support from the international community.

Assam floods: 96 animals die at Kaziranga National Park

A total of 132 animals have been rescued so far from the Park

Wildfires Threaten North American Water Supplies

As rain offers a welcome relief to fire-scorched Australia, concerns over flash floods and freshwater contamination cast a shadow on the joy. Already, massive fish kills have been reported due to heavy ash and sediment in local stream.

Local reservoirs and municipal water supplies might become so polluted from the fires that the current water supply infrastructure will be challenged or could no longer treat the water.

Flash floods and water contamination after large-scale wildfires are emerging as real hazards in Australia and many other places, threatening drinking water, ecosystems, infrastructures and recreational activities.

In many ways, this is not surprising. Forests provide water to 90 per cent of the world’s most populous cities, and most of these forests already yield degraded water quality. Forests also provide other essential water services like flood control, hydroelectricity, fishing and recreational opportunities.

Our recent global analyses clearly showed Australia’s water supply was at high risk from wildfires. We also found areas on every continent except Antarctica face similar risks. In North America, larger and more severe fires have created new challenges for forest and water managers.

Post-Fire Water Hazards

Wildfires can have many detrimental impacts on water supplies. The effects can last for multiple decades and include drinking water pollution, reservoir sedimentation, flash floods and reduced recreational benefits from rivers.

These impacts represent a growing hazard as populations expand, and communities encroach onto forest landscapes.

Looking closer, wildfires change the amount of water that comes from upstream forests and the seasonal timing of water flows. Such changes complicate water resource allocation as less water might be available during periods of high demand.

When rainstorms follow large and severe wildfires, they tend to flush ash, nutrients, heavy metals and toxins, and sediments into streams and rivers. This contamination from wildfires causes problems for the health of downstream rivers and lakes, as well as safe drinking water production.

Mercury, which can be deposited on leaves and absorbed by plants, is a particular concern. During a fire, mercury may be re-emitted in large amounts and deposited in nearby lakes, wetlands and other water, where it accumulates in the food web, and into fish, that are caught and eaten by people. Indigenous communities living in fire-prone forests in Canada and who already struggle with mercury contamination might be particularly exposed.

Risks in North America

Polluted water creates many expensive, difficult and long-lasting challenges for the drinking water treatment process. For example, water remained difficult to treat for 15 years after after the 2002 Hayman fire in Colorado.

The quality of the post-fire water increased the chances of forming undesirable byproducts of water disinfection. These toxic chemicals had to be removed before the water could be supplied to more than half a million users in Denver.

But most of the fire-prone areas in North America lack large-scale vulnerability assessments of their municipal water supplies — and not because the risks are inconsequential.

In Canada and the United States, one large and severe wildfire might increase drinking water production costs by US$10 million to US$100 million. In southern California, mudslides from heavy rainfall after wildfires caused 23 deaths and produced more than US$100 million of structural damage in 2018.

The financial burden of these changes is eventually carried by taxpayers. Adopting nature-friendly solutions to reduce severe wildfires in upstream forests, such as prescribed burns under controlled conditions, will lower the bill and provide better protection of water services.

Protecting the Source

Forest health is already declining across Canada and the United States. This trend will likely continue because of climate change and land degradation linked to human activities.

Climate projections suggest that fires will happen more frequently and become more severeUrban sprawl also increases the likelihood of these fires happening in the vicinity of homes.

Combined with increased rainfall and declining snowfall, this makes river flows and the quality of surface water less predictable. Consequently, water supplies become less reliable.

In light of these environmental changes and the inevitability of wildfires, countries like Canada and the United States can expect cascading hazards with impacts similar in magnitude to what is now happening in Australia.

Therefore, governments need to seize existing opportunities, such as leveraging existing data and taking advantage of growing computing power, to measure wildfire risk to water supplies. A tailored wildfire-water risk reduction strategy can help achieve better source water protection, improve infrastructure and foster preventive disaster planning.

There is no doubt we will learn more as our knowledge of Indigenous forest management practices improves. Instead of reinventing the wheel we must try to keep water in the landscape by restoring wetlands, and accept a helping hand when offered.

Because ultimately, forests and clean water resources are of paramount importance to our own future.

Disclosure Statement: François-Nicolas Robinne receives funding from Global Water Futures and the Canadian Partnership for Wildland Fire Science (Canada Wildfire). Dennis Hallema receives funding from the USDA Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Kevin Bladon receives funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation and the U.S. Forest Service.

More Americans are alarmed by global warming than ever before, survey reveals

(CNN)The proportion of Americans who are “alarmed” by global warming tripled over the last five years and is now at an all-time high, a new survey shows.

Almost 6 in 10 Americans are either “alarmed” or “concerned” by global warming, marking what researchers say is a major shift in public perception of the issue.
The survey was conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication, which together have tracked Americans’ views on climate change since 2008.

As recently as 2014, the percentage of Americans categorized as “dismissive” of global warming was roughly the same as those who were “alarmed” — around 11 to 12%.
But in the years since, the ranks of the “dismissive” — those who believe global warming is not happening or caused by humans — has fallen to just 10%.
Over the same time, the “alarmed” group — people who are most worried about global warming and support measures to reduce heat-trapping carbon pollution — grew to 31% of those surveyed, and today outnumber the dismissive crowd by more than 3-to-1.
The findings show that as the global climate changes rapidly, a growing proportion of Americans view the climate crisis as an actual crisis.
This new urgency felt my many Americans stands in sharp contrast to the policies of the Trump administration, which has rolled back dozens of environmental regulations, many of which were aimed at curbing climate change.

Then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a sign supporting coal at a 2016 rally. As president, Trump's administration has eased many regulations meant to stop climate change.

Indeed, the shift in public opinion hasn’t yet been translated into meaningful policy at the federal level, says Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication who co-led the survey.
“The overall trend is a major shift in the political climate of climate change in this country, but in terms of (the ‘alarmed’) exerting its full political force, it is yet to do so because it is still relatively unorganized,” he said.
As for what could be behind the shift, Leiserowitz says there are a number of likely factors.
One, he says, is the science.
“The reports from the scientific community have become ever more dire,” he said, pointing to the alarming United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2018 report that showed the window to stem catastrophic climate change is rapidly closing as one example.
Another reason is that political leaders are talking about the issue more, and polls have shown that tackling climate change is now a top issue for many Democratic voters.
The impact of increased news media coverage also can’t be ignored, Leisorowitz says.
“The media as a whole, when it doesn’t talk about the issue, the issue fades from public awareness and concern,” he said.

The debate over climate policies like the Green New Deal by political leaders is likely raising public awareness of climate change, researchers say.

Then, there are the increasing number of extreme weather disasters that have directly impacted many Americans.
Climate change has made many of these events more likely and more destructive. Reporters and public figures are helping people to connect the dots, Leiserowitz says.
“These horrific, catastrophic disasters that Americans are experiencing right now need to be interpreted for people to really understand,” he said. “And what we’re seeing is that when many Americans see these things in their backyards or on their television screens, they’re starting to ask, ‘What the hell is going on with the weather?'”

Australia just recorded its hottest day in history, capping a year of extreme temperatures around the world

Australia heat waveAustralia heat wave
A map of the latest temperature anomalies in Australia. The darker red the map is, the higher above average the temperature is. 
Tropical Tidbits
  • Australia on Tuesday recorded its hottest day on record, with an average temperature across the country of 40.9 degrees Celsius, or 105.6 degrees Fahrenheit — passing the 2013 record of 40.3 C.
  • Meteorologists predicted temperatures would increase further in the coming days and issued a health warning for people living in the southeastern part country.
  • The record-breaking heat comes in the context of a difficult year in Australia that saw devastating bushfires ravage the country and the longest, farthest-reaching period of poor air quality on record.
  • 2019 has been marked by a series of extreme weather events, including a record-breaking heat wave in France, unusually warm temperatures in Greenland, and an intense hurricane season in the US, which featured the strongest hurricane ever recorded.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Australia on Tuesday recorded its hottest day ever, as the average temperature across the country peaked at 40.9 degrees Celsius, or 105.6 degrees Fahrenheit — passing the January 2013 record of 40.3 C, or 104 F.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology on Wednesday said temperatures were set to intensify further in the coming days and warned of a heightened danger of fires across the country as a result.

“We’re expecting large areas of inland South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales to experience temperatures in the mid- to high 40s,” Sarah Scully, a meteorologist at Australian Bureau of Meteorology, said in a statement.

The record-breaking heat comes in the context of a difficult year in Australia that saw devastating bushfires ravage the country and the longest, farthest-reaching period of poor air quality on record.

Extreme weather has plagued much of the planet in 2019, with Europe battling a record-breaking heat wave in June and July and the strongest hurricane in recorded history hitting the Caribbean in late August and early September, to name just two.

Australia heatwave December 2019 .JPG
People at St. Kilda beach on Wednesday as a heat wave swept across Victoria, Australia. 
Reuters/David Crosling

The Bureau of Meteorology in Australia issued a health warning to people in the southeastern part of the country this week, with the heat-wave conditions and smoke from the fires expected to have a “large impact on people’s health.”

Bureau of Meteorology, Australia


Preliminary results suggest that the 17th December was Australia’s hottest day on record at 40.9 ºC, with the average maximum across the country as a whole, exceeding the previous record of 40.3 ºC on the 7th January 2013. 

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Dr. Blair Trewin, a climatologist at the Bureau of Meteorology, said temperatures would reach extreme numbers on Wednesday and Thursday and were expected to reach at least a degree higher than the 2013 record.