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Experts: World's hottest spot is Death Valley, not in Libya

Photo by Thomas Hawk via Flickr Creative Commons

Death Valley

A long-standing Libyan weather record deemed invalid by the World Meteorological Organization has lifted Death Valley into the top spot for the hottest place on Earth, a distinction WMO calls "as symbolic for meteorologists as Mt. Everest is for geographers." 

The new, official, highest surface temperature is 136 degrees recorded on July 10, 1913, in Death Valley. Last month the average daily high temperature in the area was 113 degrees. The hottest day this year was July 11, when the temperature reached 128 degrees.

Already recognized as the driest and hottest spot in the United States, Death Valley's new accolade comes after the previously existing title, belonging to El Azizia, Libya, was investigated by a team of international weather experts and found to be inaccurate.

90 years ago the temperature in El Azizia, Libya was incorrectly recorded as 136.4 degrees, the WMO panel announced in a news release

The Libyan record, logged Sept. 13, 1922, was likely taken by a less experienced observer, they say, who used a piece of complicated, less reliable equipment after a more reliable instrument was broken. They believe the temperature was off by about 5-7 degrees.

Per the WMO:

The announcement follows a danger-fraught investigation during the 2011 Libyan revolution. The investigating committee composed of climate experts from Libya, Italy, Spain, Egypt, France, Morocco, Argentina, United States, and United Kingdom identified five major concerns with the 1922 El Azizia temperature extreme record, specifically:

(a) problematical instrumentation

(b) a likely inexperienced observer

(c) an observation site over an asphalt-like material which was not representative of the native desert soil

(d) poor matching of the extreme to other nearby locations and

(e) poor matching to subsequent temperatures recorded at the site. 

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