Highest temperature recorded on Earth

The highest temperature recorded on Earth has been measured in three major ways: air, ground, and via satellite observation. Air measurements are used as the standard measurement due to persistent issues with unreliable ground and satellite readings. Air measurements are noted by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and Guinness World Records among others as the standard to be used for determining the official record. The current official highest registered air temperature on Earth is 56.7 °C (134.1 °F), recorded on 10 July 1913 at Furnace Creek Ranch, in Death Valley in the United States.[1] For ninety years, a former record that was measured in Libya had been in place, until it was decertified in 2012 based on evidence that it was an erroneous reading. This finding has since raised questions about the legitimacy of the 1913 record measured in Death Valley, with several meteorological experts asserting that there were similar irregularities. The WMO has stood by the record as official pending any future investigative results. If the current record were to be decertified then the holder would be a tie at 54.0 °C (129.2 °F), recorded both at Furnace Creek and in Kuwait.[a]

Several unverified temperatures that exceed the current record have also been recorded. These include historical claims that were never authenticated due to the equipment available at the time and unverified scientific claims. There are also disproven amateur readings that have been posted on social media showing evidence of extreme temperature.

History Edit

Temperatures often top 49 °C (120 °F) at Death Valley during the summer months.[2]

The standard measuring conditions for temperature are in the air, 1.5 metres (4 ft 11 in) above the ground, and shielded from direct sunlight.[3] Global surface temperatures as a whole have been monitored since the 1880s when record keeping began.[4] According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the highest registered air temperature on Earth was 56.7 °C (134.1 °F) in Furnace Creek Ranch, California, located in Death Valley in the United States, on 10 July 1913.[1][5][6] This record was surpassed by a reading of 57.8 °C (136.0 °F), registered on 13 September 1922, in ʽAziziya, Libya. Ninety years later, this record was decertified, making the former reading in Death Valley the world's highest official temperature again. The decertification of the former record in Libya has since cast doubt on the validity of the 1913 recording.[7] If the 1913 record were to be decertified, the highest established recorded air temperature on Earth would be 54.0 °C (129.2 °F), also recorded in Death Valley on 20 June 2013, and in Mitribah, Kuwait on 21 July 2016.[8] There have since been higher readings of 54.4 °C (129.9 °F) in August 2020 and July 2021, both at Furnace Creek, that are pending validation.[9][10][11][12]

Measurements have also been taken in two other ways via ground and satellite readings. Temperatures measured directly on the ground may exceed air temperatures by 30 to 50 °C (54 to 90 °F).[13] The theoretical maximum possible ground surface temperature has been estimated to be between 90 and 100 °C (194 and 212 °F) for dry, darkish soils of low thermal conductivity.[14] While there is no highest confirmed ground temperature, a reading of 93.9 °C (201.0 °F) was allegedly recorded in Furnace Creek Ranch on 15 July 1972.[15] Temperature measurements via satellite also tend to capture the occurrence of higher records but, due to complications involving the satellite's altitude loss (a side effect of atmospheric friction), these measurements are often considered less reliable than ground-positioned thermometers.[16] Satellite measurements of ground temperature taken between 2003 and 2009, taken with the MODIS infrared spectroradiometer on the Aqua satellite, found a maximum temperature of 70.7 °C (159.3 °F), which was recorded in 2005 in the Lut Desert, Iran. The Lut Desert was also found to have the highest maximum temperature in 5 of the 7 years measured (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2009). These measurements reflect averages over a large region and so are lower than the maximum point surface temperature.[13]

Issues Edit

In the early 21st century, prior recordings for the highest temperature on Earth were investigated as probable misreadings. From 1922 until 2012, the WMO record for the highest official temperature on Earth was 57.8 °C (136.0 °F), registered on 13 September 1922, in ʽAziziya, Libya. This record was decertified by the WMO in January 2012 as persuasive evidence led to a faulty reading recorded in error by an inexperienced observer.[1] The decertification of this former record led researchers to also investigate the former and current recordings made in Death Valley in 1913.[7] One of the earliest objections came in 1949 by Dr. Arnold Court, who concluded that the temperature may have been the result of a sandstorm that occurred at the time. Court stated that "such a storm may have caused superheated surface materials to hit upon the temperature in the shelter."[1][17] Modern weather historians such as Christopher C. Burt and William Taylor Reid have also claimed that the 1913 Death Valley reading is "a myth", and is at least 2.2 to 2.8 °C (4 to 5 °F) too high.[18][19] The WMO has come out in support of the current record stating that "We accept that Death Valley temperature extreme record. If any new materials on it surface, we will be prepared to open an investigation, but at this time all available evidence points to its legitimacy."[6]

Unverified claims Edit

The following are unverified claims of extreme heat over the current world record of 56.7 °C (134.1 °F). These include historical claims that were never authenticated due to the equipment available at the time and unverified scientific claims. Amateur readings have also been done through social media that claimed extreme temperatures which were later discredited. Videos were posted in one instance that allegedly showed street lights melting or trees bursting into flames. These were later disproven by meteorologists who tied the "evidence" to other unrelated prior events that had taken place.[20] All of the recordings listed before 1972 were allegedly caused by a sudden localized increase in air temperature near the surface, known as a heat burst.

Date Temperature °C/°F Type Location Description
11 July 1909 57.8 °C (136 °F) Air Cherokee, Oklahoma
(United States)
This incident was recorded at 3:00 am (CT), and reportedly caused crops to desiccate in the area.[21]
6 July 1949 70 °C (158 °F) Air Figueira da Foz, Coimbra
Within two minutes, a heat burst reportedly drove the air temperature from 38 °C (100 °F) to 70 °C (158 °F).[22][23]
1960 60 °C (140 °F) Air Kopperl, Texas
(United States)
A heat burst is claimed to have sent the air temperature to near 140 °F (60 °C), supposedly causing cotton crops to become desiccated and drying out vegetation.[24]
6 July 1966 58.5 °C (137.3 °F) Air San Luis RC, Sonora
Mexican news agencies according to state archives.[25][26]
6 July 1966 60 °C (140.0 °F) Air Mexicali, BC
An archived note from the Baja California State Meteorologic Agency claims a temperature of 58.5 °C. was recorded at San Luis, Sonora by a local meteorological agency (entry above). During the same day, another measurement was taken in the "El riito" community in Mexicali. This measurement was never completed as the reading stopped at 60 °C due to limitations of the thermometer used.[25]
June 1967 86.7 °C (188.1 °F) Unknown Abadan
An alleged temperature of 86.7 °C (188.1 °F) was recorded during a heat burst in Abadan, Iran.[23]
15 July 1972 93.9 °C (201.0 °F) Satellite Oasis at Death Valley
(United States)
See "History" section above.
2005 70.7 °C (159.3 °F) Satellite Dasht-e Lut
See "History" section above.
2008 66.8 °C (152.2 °F) Satellite Flaming Mountains
This reading was measured in the Flaming Mountains of China in 2008.[27]
2011 84 °C (183 °F) Ground Port Sudan
A ground temperature of 84 °C (183 °F) was reportedly taken in Port Sudan, Sudan.[28]
May 2021 80.8 °C (177.4 °F) Satellite Dasht-e Lut, (Iran) &
Sonoran Desert, (Mexico)
Case studies published in May 2021 by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.[29]

See also Edit

Notes Edit

  1. ^ The more recent higher readings of 54.4 °C (129.9 °F) in August 2020 and July 2021, at Furnace Creek have not been verified yet by the WMO.

References Edit

  1. ^ a b c d "World: Highest Temperature". wmo.asu.edu. Archived from the original on 14 July 2017. Retrieved 20 September 2020.
  2. ^ "Death Valley: Weather". National Park Service. Retrieved 18 July 2023.
  3. ^ Mildrexler, David J.; Zhao, Maosheng; Running, Steven W. (2011). "Satellite Finds Highest Land Skin Temperatures on Earth". Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. 2011 (7): 855–860. Bibcode:2011BAMS...92..855M. doi:10.1175/2011BAMS3067.1.
  4. ^ Rebecca Lindsey and LuAnn Dahlman. "Climate Change: Global Temperature". NOAA. Retrieved 1 July 2021.
  5. ^ "NCDC Global measured extremes". Archived from the original on 27 September 2002. Retrieved 6 November 2007.
  6. ^ a b "Highest recorded temperature". Guinness World Records. 10 July 1913. Retrieved 20 August 2018.
  7. ^ a b Samenow, Jason (25 October 2016). "New analysis shreds claim that Death Valley recorded Earth's highest temperature in 1913". Washington Post. Retrieved 20 September 2020.
  8. ^ Samenow, Jason (25 October 2016). "New analysis shreds claim that Death Valley recorded Earth's highest temperature in 1913". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  9. ^ Graham Readfearn (17 August 2020). "Death Valley temperature rises to 54.4C – possibly the hottest ever reliably recorded". Guardian.
  10. ^ León, Concepción de; Schwartz, John (17 August 2020). "Death Valley Just Recorded the Hottest Temperature on Earth". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  11. ^ "'Highest temperature on Earth' as Death Valley, US hits 54.4C". BBC Online. 17 August 2020. Retrieved 21 December 2020.
  12. ^ Samenow, Jason (9 July 2021). "Death Valley soars to 130 degrees, matching Earth's highest temperature in at least 90 years". Washington Post. Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  13. ^ a b Mildrexler, David J.; Zhao, Maosheng; Running, Steven W. (2011). "Satellite Finds Highest Land Skin Temperatures on Earth". Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. 2011 (7): 855–860 [855–857]. Bibcode:2011BAMS...92..855M. doi:10.1175/2011BAMS3067.1.
  14. ^ Garratt, J. R. (1992). "Extreme Maximum Land Surface Temperatures". Journal of Applied Meteorology. 31 (9): 1096–1105. Bibcode:1992JApMe..31.1096G. doi:10.1175/1520-0450(1992)031<1096:EMLST>2.0.CO;2.
  15. ^ Kubecka, Paul (2001). "A possible world record maximum natural ground surface temperature". Weather. 56 (7): 218–221. Bibcode:2001Wthr...56..218K. doi:10.1002/j.1477-8696.2001.tb06577.x. S2CID 120698040..
  16. ^ "How accurate are satellite measured temperatures of the troposphere?". AccuWeather. Archived from the original on 21 September 2019. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  17. ^ El Fadli, Khalid I.; Cerveny, Randall S.; Burt, Christopher C.; Eden, Philip; Parker, David; Brunet, Manola; Peterson, Thomas C.; Mordacchini, Gianpaolo; Pelino, Vinicio; Bessemoulin, Pierre; Stella, José Luis; Driouech, Fatima; Wahab, M. M. Abdel; Pace, Matthew B. (2013). "World Meteorological Organization Assessment of the Purported World Record 58°C Temperature Extreme at El Azizia, Libya (13 September 1922)". Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. 94 (2): 199–204. Bibcode:2013BAMS...94..199E. doi:10.1175/BAMS-D-12-00093.1.
  18. ^ "Doubts Cloud Death Valley's 100-year Heat Record". 15 July 2013. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
  19. ^ "Death Valley's 134F Record Temperature Study Part One". Retrieved 30 December 2013.
  20. ^ Dan Evon (7 August 2017). "62°C Temperatures in Kuwait Cause Trees to Burst into Flames?". Snopes. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
  21. ^ Isaac M. Cline, Climatological Data for July, 1909: District No. 7. Lower Mississippi Valley, p 337-338; http://ams.allenpress.com/perlserv/?request=get-toc&issn=1520-0493&volume=37&issue=7 Monthly Weather Review July 1909
  22. ^ "08 Jul 1949 – PORTUGAL IN'GRIP OF HEAT WAVE – Trove". Nla.gov.au. 8 July 1949. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  23. ^ a b Burt, Christopher C. (2004). Extreme Weather: A Guide & Record Book. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 36. ISBN 978-0393330151.
  24. ^ Petricic, Dusan (2000). "It's Raining Eels: A Compendium of Weird Weather". Scientific American Presents: 54–55. ISSN 1048-0943.
  25. ^ a b "El lugar más caliente de la Tierra es Mexicali, Baja California". La Crónica de Chihuahua. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  26. ^ "Hace 50 años México registró la temperatura más alta de la historia". www.notimerica.com. Europa Press. 6 July 2016. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  27. ^ Mildrexler, David J. (July 2011). "Satellite Finds Highest Land Skin Temperatures on Earth". Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. 92 (7): 855–860. Bibcode:2011BAMS...92..855M. doi:10.1175/2011BAMS3067.1.
  28. ^ Table 9.2, p. 158, Dryland Climatology, Sharon E. Nicholson, Cambridge University Press, 2011, ISBN 1139500244.
  29. ^ Yunxia Zhao, Hamid Norouzi, Marzi Azarderakhsh, and Amir AghaKouchak (10 May 2021). "Global Patterns of Hottest, Coldest and Extreme Diurnal Variability on Earth". Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. 102 (9): E1672–E1681. Bibcode:2021BAMS..102E1672Z. doi:10.1175/BAMS-D-20-0325.1. S2CID 236582458. Retrieved 9 July 2021.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)