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Matt Rosenberg

World's Hottest Temperature is a Little Less Hot

By September 13, 2012

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Death Valley - The World's Hottest Place, EverThe World Meteorological Organization has determined that the world's former record high temperature (136.4°F (58°C) at Al Aziziyah, Libya on September 13, 1922) was miscalculated by about 12.6°F (7°C). The WMO determined that the individual responsible for reading the thermometer was, "a new and inexperienced observer, not trained in the use of an unsuitable replacement instrument that could be easily misread, [and] improperly recorded the observation."

Therefore the world's new record high goes to the former second-place world's highest temperature of 134°F (56.7°C) at Greenland Ranch in Death Valley, California on July 10, 1913. The world's new record high temperature is about two degrees cooler than the previous record high temperature but 134°F is still quite warm in my book! With this change, I've updated my listing of 22 of the most important facts to know about the Earth.


September 13, 2012 at 11:22 pm
(1) James Hayes-Bohanan says:

Thanks — this is a very interesting forensic project. I cannot imagine digging that far back into records and making such determinations.

When reading record highs and lows, I always recall that standard measurements are taken at (I believe) 1.5 meters or so above the surface. In very dry air, the temperature gradient can be so steep that the readings would be MUCH higher right at the surface — hence the ability to fry eggs (or one’s toes) when it is “only” 120 or so.

September 14, 2012 at 9:06 am
(2) Eyal says:

And it took them 90 years to figure it out??? mmm…

September 15, 2012 at 2:30 am
(3) Christina martinez says:

Whoa that is defenely hot in my book …

September 17, 2012 at 9:41 am
(4) Sami Alamuddin says:

The measuring of temperature records has advanced a lot with the modern technology, If we go back to 100 years we might find that records registered in the past have been broken many times at different places. As an example in the track & field we are now taking into consideration the wind effect and the materials used in the Javelin, Disc throw,Pole Volt ,running shoes . So let us not go back to records measured by unexperienced people and be content with what we have.

September 17, 2012 at 7:38 pm
(5) Bill says:

In July of 1957, I was an Air Force student pilot at Marana Air Base, AZ. One afternoon I climbed into the cockpit of a North American T-28 and looked at the OAT (outside air temperarure) gauge. I knew it was hot, but was startled to see it read 132º F. (55.6º C.). Now, I know this was not a proper scientific instrument; nonetheless I believed it!

September 19, 2012 at 6:47 pm
(6) Don Hirschberg says:

Although accurately measuring air temperature has been done for hundreds of years it is neither easy nor simple. Using an accurate thermometer is the least of the problem.

The biggest hurdle for people to overcome is that any reading in the sun is absolutely useless. Not only must the thermometer not “see” the sun but it must not “see” anything that does see the sun. There are many other requirements for accurate measurements. Accurate thermometers placed side by side in the sun can read far differently if of different design, orientation and size..

The temperatures reported by weather agencies are taken in those standardized little white enclosures you might have seen that have louvered sides and are placed where lighting,engines, air conditioners, reflective walls, vegetation, windows etc. do not interfere.

Comparing temperatures over decades at the same station can give misleading results for evidence of climate change because of small changes at the station.

September 20, 2012 at 8:10 am
(7) Rakesh says:

it is indeed surprising.
what to believe and what not to believe?

September 21, 2012 at 1:14 am
(8) Don Hirschberg says:

Reasonable question Rakesh. I just entered “measuring air temperature” in Bing search engine. I get many results – more than anyone is likely to read. They are not all equally reliable but you can browse and get good agreement from schools or agencies you have heard of.

Here is what the very first hit, Wikapedia says: “

Attempts of standardized temperature measurement have been reported as early as 170 AD by Claudius Galenus.[1] The modern scientific field has its origins in the works by Florentine scientists in the 17th century. Early devices to measure temperature were called thermoscopes. The first sealed thermometer was constructed in 1641 by the Grand Duke of Toscani, Ferdinand II.[1] The development of today’s thermometers and temperature scales began in the early 18th century, when Gabriel Fahrenheit adapted a thermometer using mercury and a scale both developed by Ole Christensen Rømer. Fahrenheit’s scale is still in use, alongside the Celsius scale and the Kelvin scale.”

September 23, 2012 at 1:52 am
(9) Don Hirschberg says:

“over here” you must be a very weird creature as I have never received such a good comment. Thank you, thank you.

September 23, 2012 at 2:04 pm
(10) Don Hirschberg says:

My latest comment above was in response to the comment of “over here.” That comment has been removed leaving my comment appearing senseless.

Matt, an explanation?

September 25, 2012 at 12:58 am
(11) Don Hirschberg says:

Gee, how wonderful to be in such demand. You kinda sound like “over here.”

September 26, 2012 at 2:46 am
(12) Don Hirschberg says:

Sorry. The comment I was responding to has been removed. Again.

September 26, 2012 at 10:37 am
(13) catholicgauze says:

You’re responding to spam comments meant to direct readers to spam website. The spammers weren’t talking to you.

September 26, 2012 at 10:41 pm
(14) Don Hirschberg says:

The two deleted comments I responded to had been directed to me. I don’t know if they were spam or not. What is the definition? Who is the judge? Niether directed readers to another site nor provided any linkage. What is your interest?

You failed to understand the comments re the Spanish north African cities too. I am not surprised.

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