There are many extreme places on our wonderful Earth.
Among them is the hottest place on Earth. But where exactly is it?
To answer that question is not as easy as it might seem.
This question is in fact still widely debated because, how the temperature is measured plays an important role when scientists attempt to decide
what place is hotter than the other.
Many people think the hottest place on Earth is Al Azizyah, Libya, with a recorded temperature of 136 degrees Fahrenheit (57.8 Celsius).
In Death Valley, California, USA, temperature 134 Fahrenheit in 1913, which makes it another very hot spot on this planet.
But there are also other places where the temperature can be extreme.
We can take for example Lut, a huge desert located in the eastern region of Iran.
It is an amazing, but extremely inhospitable place where few, if any organisms can survive. On one occasion, NASA's satellite Aqua recorded surface
temperatures as high as 71 °C (159 °F)!
Lut Desert as seen from space by the International Space Station. Image credit: NASA
In 2004, ecologist Steve Running visited the Flaming Mountain, a ridge of dark red sandstone on the edge of the Taklimakan Desert and the Tian Shan range.
The surface of the mountain is said to reach temperatures of 50 to 80°C (122 to 175°F) in the summer, and a nearby tourist center marks the spot with a huge golden thermometer. It is the hottest place in China, if not the world, or so says the local lore.
And that got Running thinking: exactly where is the hottest place on Earth? With some colleagues at the University of Montana, he did some research and found that the location of the world's hottest spot changes, though the conditions don't. Think dry, rocky, and dark-colored lands.
In July 1913, observers in Furnace Creek, California-Death Valley-watched the thermometer reach 56.7°C (134°F) and declared it to be the highest
temperature ever recorded on Earth. But just nine years later, on September 13, 1922, a weather station in El Azizia, Libya, recorded a temperature
of 58.0°C (136.4°F).
Measurements of MODIS (Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) installed on NASA's satellite "Aqua" from 2003 - 2005 testify that the hottest
land surface on Earth is located the Lut desert, where land surface temperatures reach here 70.7 degrees C (159-160 degrees F).
"Yet most of the places that call themselves the hottest on Earth are not even serious contenders," says Running. The reason is partly about where the
measurements are made. But it is also a tale about how temperature is measured.
"The World Meteorological Organization has approximately 11,119 weather stations on Earth's land surface collecting surface temperature observations,"
notes David Mildrexler, also from the University of Montana. "When compared to the 144.68 million square kilometers of land surface, that's one station
every 13,012 square kilometers."
"The Earth's hot deserts-such as the Sahara, the Gobi, the Sonoran, and the Lut-are climatically harsh and so remote that access for routine measurements
and maintenance of a weather station is impractical," he adds. "The majority of Earth's hottest spots are simply not being directly measured by
That's where satellites come in and that is what we have to keep in mind when considering the hottest place on Earth.
For the time being, the Lut desert with its incredible 71 °C (159 °F) remains Earth's hottest spot.
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