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The Most Record-Breaking Temperatures Ever Registered on Earth

The changes in the air temperature are recorded by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). It decides which numbers should be officially recorded. Aside from obvious records, there are some unusual cases. For example, in Marble Bar in Australia, the temperature was above 100°F for 160 days at the beginning of the 1920s. And in 1943, in Spearfish, South Dakota, the temperature went from 4°F to 45°F in just 2 minutes.

5-Minute Crafts decided to find out more about the temperature records on Earth, and some of our discoveries really amazed us.

The highest temperatures

At the moment, the highest temperature ever recorded on Earth was +134.0°F. It was registered on July 10, 1913, in Furnace Creek, USA.

For 90 years, a previous record of 136.4°F reached in Libia was the highest, but it was disqualified in 2012 because it was wrong. This incident caused a lot of discussions about whether the 1913 record was true, but WMO stands by its decision as of now.

Continents:

  • Africa: It seems that the equator on this continent is supposed to be the hottest place on Earth. But according to statistics, it’s not. The highest temperature ever recorded in Africa was 131°F in Kebili, Tunisia, reached in July of 1931. This small town in North Africa is located along the northern edge of the Sahara Desert.
  • Asia: In July 2016, Mitribah, Kuwait, saw a high temperature of 129°F in July of 2016; and Turbat, Pakistan reached 128.7°F in May 2017. These are the highest temperature readings around the world. It was reported that on June 21, 1942, in Tirat Zvi, Israel, the temperature reached 129.2°F. But this number is still under evaluation by the WMO.
  • Europe: Athens, the capital of Greece, is a record holder for the highest temperature ever recorded in Europe. The high temperature of 118.4°F was reached on July 10, 1977. Even though Athens is located near the sea, the ocean breeze didn’t help on that hot day.
  • North America: This continent has a record for the highest temperature ever recorded (134.0°F, Furnace Creek). Due to its location, it is both the lowest and arguably the hottest place on Earth.
  • South America: The highest temperature was recorded on December 11, 1905, in Rivadavia, Argentina. It was 120°F. Rivadavia is a coastal province that sees a wide range of temperatures due to its position along the sea.
  • Australia and Oceania: The highest temperatures are usually reached on stretched lands rather than on islands because the ocean makes extreme temperatures milder. The highest temperature recorded in Australia was in the Stuart Range of Oodnadatta, South Australia, nearly in the center of the country. The high temperature of 123°F was reached on January 2, 1960. In Oceania, the hottest temperature was in New Zealand, and it was 108.3°F.
  • Antarctica: The Signy research station recorded the highest temperature on January 30, 1982 (67.6°F). As for the other numbers, 64.9°F was recorded at the Esperanza research station on March 24, 2015.
  • The Arctic: On December 14, 2021, WMO reported a new temperature record for the Arctic at 100.4°F. It was registered in the Russian town of Verkhoyansk on June 20, 2020. This new number is another sign that our climate is changing.

💡At the moment, the WMO researchers are evaluating the reading of 129.9°F that was registered in 2020 and 2021 in the hottest place in the world, Furnace Creek in California. Also, a new European record might be recognized from Sicily in 2021. The number was 119.8°F. It’s interesting that the world has never seen as many studies and as much research regarding weather and climate phenomena as we have today.

The lowest temperatures

The lowest temperature ever recorded on Earth was −128.6°F. It was reached at the Vostok station in Antarctica on July 21, 1983.

On August 10, 2010, satellite observations showed a temperature of −135.8°F along a ridge between Dome Argus and Dome Fuji. But it’s not recognized as the lowest temperature ever because it was measured from a distance, unlike the 1983 record. The 2010 number is the temperature on the ice’s surface, while the Vostok record is the air temperature around the ice. This is why these numbers can’t be directly compared.

Continents:

  • Africa: This continent didn’t reach any record numbers in terms of high temperatures, but in this case, it has the highest lowest temperature. On February 11, 1935, in Ifrane Marocco, the temperature was −11.0°F, which is quite unusual for Africa.
  • Asia and the Arctic: The record was set twice, both times in Siberia. The temperature was −90°F first in Verkhoyansk and then in Oymyakon.
  • Europe. In a Russian village called Ust’ Shchugor, the temperature was −72.6°F on December 31, 1978.
  • North America: This continent surpassed the numbers of Verkhoyansk and Oymyakon. In 2020, WMO recognized the fact that the lowest temperature was reached in an automatic weather station in Greenland on December 22, 1991. It was −93.3°F.
  • South America: In Sarmiento, Chubut Province in Argentina, there was a cold summer in 1907. On June 1, it was as cold as −27.0°F.
  • Australia and Oceania: The record in this territory is not very far from the temperature reached in Africa, but it’s still a bit lower. On July 18, 1903, in Ranfurly, New Zealand, the temperature reached −14.1°F.
  • Antarctica: The Vostok station has the coldest reading of −128.6°F.
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