Record heat stifled Australia in April 2005. The average temperature for the entire continent was 2.9 degrees Celsius above average, making this the warmest April on record. The high temperatures were accompanied by dry skies, with rainfall totals well below average for many areas. This image shows just how much of Australia sweltered under hotter-than-normal temperatures during April 2005. The image was created using surface temperature data collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite. Deep red over most of the continent reveal where temperatures were hotter in April 2005 than the average April temperature between 2000 and 2004. Darker red spots show where temperatures spiked, while tan and blues show temperatures much closer to average.
The surface temperatures shown here are different from the air temperatures reported on the evening news. Because the ground absorbs energy from the sun, surface temperatures are often much warmer than air temperatures; for example, a sandy beach can be unbearably hot even though the air temperature is comfortable. While air temperatures may not have soared as high as 15 degrees Celsius above average as the image shows the ground temperatures doing in places, they did set new records throughout the country.