death valley close up

People around the world have been suffering the effects of a heatwave recently.

Temperatures have been soaring around the globe over the last few weeks.

But no matter how hot and sweaty you get, count yourself lucky that you weren’t around in California in 1913… at least, most of us weren’t.

The highest temperature recorded on Earth was at Greenland Ranch (later renamed Furnace Creek Ranch) in Death Valley, California, USA.

It was on 10 July 1913 when the temperature soared to an unmatched 56.7°C (134°F).

death valley

It was previously believed that the temperature in El Azizia, Libya, had reached an even higher 58°C (136°F) in 1922.

However, this measurement was disqualified in September 2012 by the World Meteorological Organisation (MWO).

An investigation found that measurement could have been off by as much as 7°C due to a number of factors.

The WMO concluded the temperature could be inaccurate as it was taken over an asphalt-like surface, which is not a fair representation of the native desert soil.

WMO member Randy Cerveny, a professor of geography at Arizona State University, said at the time: “This investigation demonstrates that, because of continued improvements in meteorology and climatology, climate experts can now re-analyze past weather records in much more detail than ever before."

He added: "We accept that Death Valley temperature extreme record. Obviously if any new materials on it surface, we will be prepared to open an investigation, but at this time all available evidence points to its legitimacy."

death valley is where the highest temperature was recorded

Furnace Creek, as it’s now known, tends to reach a sweaty daily high of 46°C (115°F), making it the hottest place on Earth*.

The ground is even hotter! One measurement of 93°C (201°F) was taken on 15 July 1972 – just 11°F away from the boiling point of water.

It’s certainly not somewhere you’d want to walk around barefoot!

Death Valley is around 190 ft (57.9 m) below sea level, which is one of the reasons it gets so hot - because air warms as it gets lower.

The desert valley also experiences less than 3 in (7.62 cm) of rainfall every year.

Temperatures this high can be very dangerous for people, and of course, it’s important to remember that the air temperature you read from a thermometer could be very different to how hot it feels.

death valley road

According to Healthline, an air temperature of 29°C (85°F) with no humidity can feel a bit cooler and more like 26°C (78°F).

But 29°C (85°F) with 80% humidity feels closer to 36°C (97°F).

When temperatures are between 32-40°C (90-105°F), people can experience heat cramps and exhaustion.

And temperatures over 54°C (130°F) can often lead to heatstroke.

Despite the sweltering temperatures in Death Valley, more than 300 people live there year-round.

“It’s pretty oppressive,” said Furnace Creek resident Brandi Stewart.

The public information officer for Death Valley National Park added to Insider: “You go outside and you just immediately feel it, you feel it on your skin. 

“It's dry; you don't feel yourself sweat because it evaporates so quickly.”

Where did I leave that factor 50 suncream?

*Oh, but if we’re going to get technical, the hottest place on Earth is actually the air around a lightning strike for a fraction of a second. That air will be heated to around 30,000°C (54,032°F), roughly five times hotter than the visible surface of the Sun.

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