THE "unprecedented" heatwave gripping Australia shows the impact climate change is having, a new report has found.
Although Australia had always had heatwaves, hot days and bushfires, the current extreme hot spell showed climate change was increasing the risk of more frequent and longer heatwaves and more extreme hot days, as well as exacerbating bushfire conditions.
The finding is contained in Off the Charts: Extreme Australian Summer Heat, released by the Climate Commission yesterday.
Report author Professor David Karoly said the extreme heat and bushfires being experienced showed the weather "baseline" had shifted.
"We live in a hotter world and the risk of more frequent and severe extreme weather has already increased," Prof Karoly said.
"The length, extent and severity of the current heatwave is unprecedented.
"While typical summer heatwaves influence a region, this heatwave has affected over 70% of Australia.
"Long-standing temperature records across Australia have been broken."
"Climate change has contributed to making these extreme heat conditions and bushfires worse."
Prof Karoly emphasised that reducing greenhouse gas emissions was one of the crucial steps to reducing the risk of more severe extreme weather in future.
"It is important that the community understands the link between heat extremes and climate change," he said.
"Our efforts to reduce greenhouse gases today can reduce the risk of more and more severe extreme weather in the future."
The report said the record average temperature around Australia over a 24-hour period was broken two days in a row last week.
The previous record of 31.86 degrees, set on December 21, 1972, was broken last Monday,
January 7, by an average temperature of 32.23 degrees.
That record was broken the following day when the average temperature was 32.36 degrees.
The average maximum temperature from January 2-8 was more than 39 degrees - the longest period for such high temperatures in recorded history.
The Climate Commission is an independent body established to provide information on climate change science and solutions.
It brings together internationally renowned climate scientists with policy and business leaders.
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