100,000 flying foxes die in Australian heat wave

Last year, 2013, was the hottest year in Australia's recorded history, and it doesn't appear that there will be much relief in 2014.  News reports across Australia are describing a catastrophic die-off of giant fruit bats known as 'flying foxes'.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals estimates that 100,000 flying foxes died from a heat wave over the last several days, over at least 25 different locales in southeastern Queensland.

Communities near flying fox colonies are reporting a terrible stench as dead flying foxes decompose en masse.  One local resident said a flying fox flew into their porch, gave off a loud screech, and then died right before their eyes.

Large-scale die-offs of flying foxes during heats waves have been previously reported on dozens of occasions in Australia.  The animals appear to have a critical maximum temperature of about 41 degrees Centigrade.

In essays in New Scientist and Yale Environment 360, I've discussed how global warming could combine with natural climate variability to create deadly heat waves.

-Bill Laurance