The hottest temperatures on Earth, according to reliable records
- Many of the hottest air temperatures recorded in the world were in Death Valley in California.
- However, some temperatures are of questionable accuracy.
Many of the hottest air temperatures recorded on Earth are in a notorious US national park, but some of the planet’s hottest temperatures have been measured in parts of Asia and the Middle East.
134 degrees officially: According to the World Meteorological Organization, which tracks official records such as temperature, wind and precipitation, the highest record air temperature ever measured anywhere on Earth was 134 degrees Fahrenheit in Death Valley, California, on July 10, 1913.
But there is an asterisk. As weather historian Christopher Burt explained in an interview, this record is questionable.
So, what is the real world record then? In the same event that occurred in July 1913, Death Valley also recorded a high of 131 degrees on July 13. Given that a high of 134 degrees is questionable, this also calls into question the high recorded three days later.
On July 26, 1931, the city of Kebili, Tunisia, recorded a high temperature of 55 degrees Celsius, or 131 degrees Fahrenheit. However, in an email to Weather.com, Burt wrote that “nothing is known about the source of this number.”
This leaves the next hottest temperature, once again, in Death Valley, where it reached 130 degrees in July 2021 and also in August 2020, when the August temperature is rounded up for official record keeping.
Unlike the 1913 readings, these temperatures were measured by an automated temperature sensor at Furnace Creek. It is rated to measure temperatures up to 158 degrees with an accuracy of 0.018 degrees and is regularly maintained, according to the National Weather Service in Las Vegas, which has projected responsibility for Death Valley National Park.
Death Valley appears six other times on that list. This includes a reading of 129 degrees from a monitoring station at the southernmost tip of Death Valley – Saratoga Spring – on July 16, 2023.
(more: Why is Death Valley so hot?)
The other sites are located in a wide area of the Middle East extending from Kuwait to Iran and Pakistan. Two of them occurred in the same heatwave, just one day apart, in late July 2016.
All of these temperatures are generally within one degree of each other.
A reading of 129.2 °F (54 °C) from Tirat Zvi, Israel, on June 22, 1942, accepted by the Israel Meteorological Service. However, Burt noted that the temperature did not match observations for the day and was 2.8°C higher than the next and closest hottest location on that day.
These are the highest reliable temperatures on each continentcourtesy of global temperature records guru Maximiliano Herrera and the World Meteorological Organization:
AfricaOuargla, Algeria: 124.3°F (51.3°C) on July 5, 2018
Antarctica: Cygne Research Station: 67.6 °F (19.8 °C) on January 30, 1982
Asia: Singer, Kuwait: 129°F (53.9°C) on July 21, 2016
Australia, OceaniaOodnadatta, Australia: 123.3°F (50.7°C) on January 13, 2022 and January 2, 1960
Europe: Siracusa, Italy: 119.8°F (48.8°C) on August 11, 2021
north americaDeath Valley, California: 130°F (54.4°C) on July 9, 2021
south america: Campo Gallo, Argentina: 117.1 °F (47.3 °C) on October 16, 1936
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect the last high of 129 degrees in Death Valley on July 16, 2023, as well as a previously deleted high in Basra, Iraq, in 2016.
Jonathan Erdmann is a senior meteorologist at Weather.com, and has been an incurable weather geek ever since a tornado missed his childhood home in Wisconsin when he was seven years old. Twitter And Facebook.
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