Epic heat is broiling the Southern Hemisphere. A town in Western Australia tied the all-time record for hottest temperature in the Southern Hemisphere last week, and extreme heat, coupled with extended drought, are threatening important grain-producing regions in southern South America. Multiple weather stations in Argentina, Uruguay, and southwestern Brazil have broken, or came close to, all-time high temperature records in the past week. Argentina is the world’s largest soybean exporter and third-largest corn exporter and the heat-drought combination poses serious concerns.
Climate change, caused by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels, is making droughts and extreme heatwaves worse and more frequent. “We’re having many days of clear skies where solar radiation is very intense and in a context of an extreme drought Argentina has been going through for about two years,” Cindy Fernandez, a meteorologist at Argentina’s National Meteorological Service, told Reuters. “This means that the soil is very dry, and earth that is dry heats up much more than soil that is moist.” The heatwave also highlights the ongoing danger posed by climate change to Patagonian penguins. (South America: Reuters, Yale Climate Connections; Australia: Reuters, Bloomberg $, The Guardian; Penguins: Washington Post $; Climate Signals background: Extreme heat and heatwaves, Drought)