The all-time highest temeparature ever was recorded more than a century ago, but that reading has been challenged
California’s Death Valley registered a temperature of 54.4 degrees Celsius or 129.9 degrees Fahrenheit on August 16, 2020, which, once verified, could be the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth.
The temperature was recorded at the United States National Weather Service’s automated weather station at Furnace Creek, near the border with Nevada, at 3:41 pm local time on the afternoon of August 16.
Yep it was HOT out there today...— NWS Las Vegas (@NWSVegas) August 17, 2020
So hot in fact, that the PRELIMINARY high temperature @DeathValleyNPS was 130°F. If verified, this will be the hottest temperature officially verified since July of 1913. For more info...https://t.co/qFXcIVoPig#DeathValley #Climate #CAwx pic.twitter.com/lAl8NQDCyp
According to the NWS, the Death Valley had recorded a temperature of 129°F in July 2013. The temperature on August 16 has surpassed it.
Per the climate data in xmACIS2, this is the first time since 1913 that Death Valley has reached 130F. In July 2013, it last reached 129F. If valid, it would be the hottest August temperature at the site by 3F. @NWSVegas pic.twitter.com/gZNBW4NXI4— NWS WPC (@NWSWPC) August 16, 2020
The all-time highest temperature ever recorded is 134°F or 56.7°C on July 10, 1913, at the Greenland Ranch in the Death Valley.
However, since the temperature-recording mechanisms a century ago were not as advanced, many have doubted if that reading was reliable.
Similarly, a reading of 131°F or 55°C from July 1931 in Tunisia, has also been challenged.
The temperature recorded at Furnace Creek has been termed as ‘preliminary’ and not ‘final’. Some have said that if it is verified as correct, it will be a new record.
WMO will verify the temperature of 130°F (54.4C) reported at Death Valley, California, on Sunday. This would be the hottest global temperature officially recorded since 1931. pic.twitter.com/AOaWHKWVKJ— World Meteorological Organization (@WMO) August 17, 2020
The high temperature recorded on August 16 is a result of a so-called ‘heat dome’ that is smothering the west coast of the United States, broadcaster CBS News said.
So what exactly is a heat dome? The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA describes it thus:
High pressure circulation traps hot ocean air like a lid or a cap trapping heat at the surface and favouring the formation of a heat wave
The heat dome is likely to continue into August 17 and August 18, according to CBS. The blazing heat in California and the US Southwest will continue into the next 10 days, CBS said.
Extreme heat will continue to plague the western third of the country through the middle of this week. ~56 million people are under heat advisories or warnings, and many daily record high temperatures are forecast. pic.twitter.com/xHUYGiFURr— NWS WPC (@NWSWPC) August 17, 2020
This year has already seen various extremes in temperature.
It began on a sombre note as smoke from the wildfires of Australia in December 2019 started to circumnavigate the globe. The fires have been among the deadliest, with 20 per cent of Australia’s forests burnt and nearly three billion animals killed.
In June, Siberia began to burn because of wildfires caused by intense heat.
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.