The Earth is pretty hospitable as far as things go but its climate does get extremely hot in certain locations. Excessive heat can be very dangerous, even for the healthiest individuals among us, and when our bodies can no longer cool themselves by increasing our heart rates and sweating heavily, we begin to overheat and dehydrate – which can be fatal. The temperatures in this list really are extreme and very, very few living organisms can tolerate them. Here are some of the hottest temperatures ever recorded on our planet.
In 2010, Pakistan recorded one of the highest temperatures in the world but also the hottest reliably measured temperature ever recorded in Asia at 128.3 °F or 53.5 °C.
However, this record was matched in May 2017, when extraordinarily hot air moved across parts of Iran and Pakistan, forming a heat dome of high-pressured air. Air was forced downwards towards the surface by this highly pressured weather system in the atmosphere, which allowed for strong Compressional Heating, whereby air is compressed in place at ground levels instead of warm air being blown in. The air kept conducting heat from the ground that had been roasting from the Sun in clear blue skies.
Records broken across the Middle-east and Europe included a highest temperature of 128.3 degrees Fahrenheit or 53.5 degrees Fahrenheit recorded in the Western Pakistani town of Turbat.
As the heat moved towards Europe, Norway experienced a record-breaking temperature with a high of 90 degrees Fahrenheit or 32.2 degrees Celsius at Tinnsjø on May 27, and Austria had a high of 95 degrees Fahrenheit or 35.0 degrees Celsius at Horn on May 31.
The Middle-eastern climate is famous for its scorching temperatures. It happens due to its arid environment, relatively low exposure to coastlines, and low-lying land where air can flow over with ease.
One of its hottest areas is Sulaibiya, which is a distant suburb of Kuwait city and features the largest tire graveyard in the world, consisting of approximately seven billion used tires, some of which have melted under the intense heat!
The population is scarce in the area and no wonder – it holds the record for the joint hottest place in Asia with a max temperature of 128.5 Fahrenheit or 53.6 Celsius in July of 2012. There is some discrepancy in the records, though, as a temperature of 127.9 Fahrenheit or 53.3 degrees Celsius at Mitribah has been suggested as the highest most-accurate temperature in Asia.
Either way, there is a very small percentage of humans that can tolerate such epic heat and these sparsely populated and highly inhospitable areas play host to just a tiny amount of highly-adapted animals and insects. Humans may even be in danger as the extreme heat gets worse.
A study published in the journal Nature Climate Change in 2016 cautioned that by 2090, due to climate change, temperatures may become too hot for human survival.
The Middle-east tends to dominate many temperature records and Israel is certainly no exception. Tirat Tsvi lies west of the Jordan-Israel border and sits 220 meters or 700 feet below sea level, forming a heat sink which regularly causes temperatures to soar well above 40 degrees.
Its temperature record occurred in 1942, when the town recorded a temperature of 129 Fahrenheit or 53.9 degrees Celsius. This would be the hottest temperature in Asia but thermometers were not so accurate back then and skeptical meteorologists claim that thermograph data indicates a temperature that was more like 127.4 Fahrenheit or 53 degrees Celsius.
Interestingly, the area is not devoid of plant life and it does enjoy some agricultural success with the assistance of modern plant hydration technology.
Iran is an extremely dry and hot country for the most part. Sandwiched between the subtropical aridity of the Arabian desert and the subtropical humidity of the eastern Mediterranean area, it regularly experiences super-high temperatures of well above 105 Fahrenheit or 40 degrees Celsius throughout its summer months.
Through the heat dome effect as explained earlier, where humid air is trapped under a dome and sinks, which compresses and therefore warms it up, temperatures soar to 40 degrees and over regularly. Reliably measured temperatures of 127.5 Fahrenheit or 53 degrees are recorded quite regularly in parts of Iran, perhaps more regularly than any other country worldwide.
It hits its temperature record in the city of Ahvaz which soared to 128.7 degrees Fahrenheit or 53.7 degrees Celsius. If the numbers are accurate, it’s just shy of the hottest temperature recorded anywhere on Earth.
6. Timbuktu, Mali
Temperature records only edge up slightly when you get to this point and as readings grow ever closer, accuracy becomes ever-more important. Mali’s Saharan proximity gives it roasting summers with highly contrasting winters that reach well below freezing.
Throughout its ancient cities lies Araouane, which is a small Saharan village near Timbuktu, and the desert surrounding it is completely desolate, barren, and dry with just a wind named ‘the Harmattan‘ blowing sand in from the Sahara.
In 1945, the temperature is suggested to have risen to an extreme 54.4 Celsius in the summer month of July. Timbuktu itself, world-renowned for being “in the middle of nowhere”, regularly sees average highs of 108 degrees, even in the colder months. However, In the summer, temperatures nearing 130.1 Fahrenheit or 54.5 Celsius have been recorded.
5. Kebili, Tunisia
Tunisia has the Mediterranean sea to the north, with hot, humid air, and desert in its inland areas. To the north, the Mediterranean air brings some relief to the usually-hot climate. Therefore, north Tunisia is a popular tourist destination.
The further south you go, however, the drier things become. In the center of the country, you’ll find Kebili, which is actually considered an oasis for those wanting to escape the African heat, providing you go there in the right month. It’s rather picturesque and features rolling dunes with palm trees and plenty of arid rock formations.
Despite its oasis-like feel, you won’t get much respite from the heat at all during the summer months. Things are worse in the hottest months from May to July when the average high is around 107.6 Fahrenheit or 42 Celsius.
© PX Fuel
Kebili has seen temperatures well into the 50s, though. During the 1940s, temperatures reportedly soared to a whopping 131 Fahrenheit or 55.0 Celsius. Such data is contested in the modern era but reliable measurements of 125.6 Fahrenheit or 52 Celsius have been made.
4. Ghadames, Libya
Ghadames is known as ‘the pearl of the desert’ and features beautiful middle-eastern architecture that stands in a sand-blasted oasis.
High temperatures regularly batter the beautiful architecture. During June through to August, temperatures often exceed 104 Fahrenheit or 40 degrees Celsius. It rarely descends below 60 Fahrenheit or 20 degrees Celsius, which is very hot indeed for a desert town.
This hot desert climate receives very little rain throughout the entire summer and only around an inch all year. Libya is also affected by a powerful wind named the Ghibli which sweeps across the desert flats, causing swirling heated dust storms.
The hottest temperature recorded here was 131.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 55.2 degrees Celsius, recorded in 1961. Though this figure is contested, reliable measurements of 125.6 degrees Fahrenheit or 52 degrees Celsius have been made in the 90s.
3. Furnace Creek, Death Valley
Ask most people where they think the hottest place on Earth is and they’ll most likely reply ‘Death valley’. Indeed, the whole of Arizona can get devilishly hot. You will find locals posting hundreds of hilarious images of things simply melting away from the heat of the sun.
One image here, a garbage bin, had melted apart. Why does this happen? It’s because the metal cans inside probably exceeded 200 degrees Fahrenheit or 93 degrees Celsius!
© The Sun
This famously hot area hosts virtually no animal or plant life and is a peril to traverse without adequate preparation.
In fact, there are numerous stories about hikers’ plight in Death valley. One famous case happened in 1991 when the camera film of a group literally melted.
Furnace Creek is the part of death valley that holds the world’s temperature record with a record high of a staggering 134.6 Fahrenheit or 57 degrees in 1913! It’s between 50 and 80 meters – or just over 200 feet – below sea level. Raised rocky sides encircle it, allowing heat to sink right down into the creek which has absolutely no shelter from the merciless sun.
Many meteorologists dispute the accuracy of this historical reading. However, modern temperature readings still reach around 129.2 degrees Fahrenheit or 54.0 degrees Celsius. There is also photographic evidence.
Furnace Creek’s average highs in the summer peak around 114.8 Fahrenheit or 46 degrees Celsius which is just phenomenal! That puts Furnace Creek right up with what currently seems to be the world’s hottest temperatures.
Because of this, Furnace Creek has become a popular tourist site. The place now features shops and cafes so you don’t have to fry your eggs on the road.
2. Satellite temperatures
Taking temperature readings isn’t as simple as leaving a thermometer somewhere and taking a reading from it. There are many variables that make it a fairly complex procedure.
Scientists generally like to combine temperatures taken from satellites and from the ground. Satellite data focuses on the LST, which is the Land Surface Temperature. The surface of the land radiates this temperature.
Obviously, this is generally much hotter than the air temperature which is what we feel as humans. If we were to lie on the ground in any of these places – on black asphalt – we would certainly burn very quickly indeed.
Satellite temperatures vary wildly but some of the top temperatures recorded from NASA’s Aqua research satellite include Iran’s Lut Desert which measured 159.2 Fahrenheit or 70.7 Celsius. Queensland in Australia had the hottest average high temperature of 156.7 degrees Fahrenheit 69.3 degrees Celsius. In 2008, Flaming Mountain in China had a yearly maximum temperature of 156.6 Fahrenheit or 66.8 Celsius.
1. Ground temperatures
Ground temperatures are one step higher than satellite temperatures. Whilst satellite temperatures record temperatures that are resulting from reflected solar radiation directly from the surface, ground temperatures mean measuring from directly below the ground.
The depth of the thermometer greatly influences this but dark soils with low thermal conductivity can yield theoretical high temperatures of between 194 and 212 degrees Fahrenheit or 90 and 100 degrees Celsius!
This is easy enough to facilitate the melting of flip-flops, which isn’t uncommon on asphalt in Australia.
The official records for ground temperatures include 183.2 degrees Celsius or 84 degrees Fahrenheit in Port Sudan, Sudan. In Furnace Creek, it reached 201 degrees Fahrenheit or 93.9 degrees Celsius on the 15th of July 1972. That’s just a few degrees off boiling point!
Recording temperatures is a tricky business. The climate is changing constantly, as are the methods of assessment. This presents a challenge for climate scientists as the hottest temperature is not only a sort-of meteorological accolade but also important in the investigation of climate change and global warming. What’s the hottest temperature you’ve ever experienced? Let me know in the comments down below.