Climate Change

Did Death Valley just hit the highest temperature recorded ever

The all-time highest temeparature ever was recorded more than a century ago, but that reading has been challenged 

 
By DTE Staff
Published: Monday 17 August 2020
Highest-ever reliable temperature in world history recorded in US. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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