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Key figure: 50°C

That was the temperature indicated on the thermometer in Western Australia in December 2018. The region was struck by an extreme heatwave. Now, it’s the turn of Southern Australia this January, with temperatures ranging from 8 to 12°C higher than the seasonal average in certain cities. A temperature of 48.9°C was recorded at Port Augusta on Tuesday 15 January, 2019.

Australia had one of its hottest years in 2018, with dramatic impacts on aquatic habitats: thousands of dead fish have been found in the Murray-Darling basin, in Southeast Australia, over the last two months. The rise in water temperatures and the fall in river water levels have led to the proliferation of an algae that deprives fish of oxygen. Agriculture has also been struck: following catastrophic winter harvests, the government announced the creation of a new fund with several hundred million Australian dollars to prepare the country for future droughts.

Australia is a country that has always lacked water. It was a precursor in the management of hydric stress with the implementation of a market for trading water access rights, and new technologies (water thrifty systems; desalinisation processes; tools to predict underground water resources). But will these suffice in the near future? Australia remains the planet’s third largest consumer of water per inhabitant.

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