BIODIVERSITYENVIRONMENTDelayed Monsoon Intensifies Australia’s Heatwave Killing Thousands of Animals

Maureen SantosJanuary 22, 20192866 min

Too much heat caused by global warming has already killed thousands of animals from the Land Down Under.

Australia is enduring the maximum temperature of 42°C ever recorded in Perth. It could be 10° above normal, however, it still is 4° off the record. The intensified heatwave caused lakes and rivers to dry up. The warm air and high humidity giving the animals hard time to breathe causing their deaths.

Perch is one of the many species that died during the extreme heatwave. (Pixabay/Andy Ballard)

Freshwater fishes including bony herring, golden and silver perch, and Murray cod
have perished in Australia’s Darling River. Hundreds of thousands of these species succumbed to the oxygen-lack waters and severe weather that triggered the cyanobacteria to develop. The Australian government revealed a plan to utilize 16 battery-powered aerators throughout the state’s drought-affected waterways in an effort to increase oxygen levels.

Bureau of Meteorology senior climatologist Blair Trewin said, “We have now seen five days in a row when temperatures remained in the 40s, and probably the only event that’s comparable on a statewide level was the January 1939 heatwave.”

Not only fishes are directly affected by the heatwave. In the northern part of the country, at least 23,000 spectacled flying foxes died in November 2018 when the temperature exceeded 40°. The figure is about 1/3 of the 75,000 spectacled flying foxes tallied dead fruit-bat species and could be miscalculated, according to Western Sydney University ecologist Justin Welbergen.

Spectacled flying foxes (male, female & her young). (Wikimedia Commons/Justin Welbergen)

Australia is enduring a strange hot summer as the heatwave persists to smash records. Queensland experienced a humid temperature above 40° for succeeding days following Cloncurry and Camooweal. In the northwestern part, 37 consecutive days have been recorded from December 16 to January 20.

Delayed monsoon rains intensify the heatwave in Australia.(Pixabay/SplitShire)

Monsoon rains that are behind schedule have played a part in the heatwave, particularly in northern Queensland. Even though two typhoons have already swamped Queensland’s tropical headland, the region became more dried up than normal and subsequently less cloudy.

The delay in monsoon rains is caused by two main factors: El Niño and Madden-Julian oscillation.

The Pacific Ocean is slowly churning El Niño that will bring drought to most parts of the world, specifically in the midwest. This phenomenon drifts the rain away from
Australia’s northern part. The constraining development of Madden-Julian oscillation
(MJO) is evolving over Indonesia and tropical Australia.

Drought drives animals in Australia to scavenge for food along the road but get hit by cars.(Flickr/Peter Mackey)

The Madden-Julian oscillation is a natural wave found in the upper atmosphere. Every now and then, it either drives or hinders the development of a thunderstorm. It is forceful in its recent repressive state with a decreasing normal thunderstorm buildup over the region.

This weekend, the monsoon progressed in northern Australia. It will gradually creep its way southward and could arrive around Tuesday or Wednesday and won’t probably impact the heatwave. The heat is, after all, is bound to expand into southern Australia for the next two consecutive days and stimulate the heatwave in the southeast.

Maureen Santos

She lets everyone become aware of what is happening to our beloved planet Earth and its inhabitants. She can take you beyond the space and find out how neighbor planets are doing. Moreover, she would open your eyes to the things what makes the Earth suffer including the living species and allow you to decide what you can do to help save the planet and the future generation.

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