54.4°C in the shade? For the longest time, the aptly named Death Valley has been the hottest place on earth with 57°C (134°F). And yet that long-standing record has been utterly crushed.
Hell on Earth
Based on terrestrial (non-atmospheric) temperatures measured over the past 18 years by NASA satellites, four American researchers revealed on 10 May that the highest temperature in the world had been recorded in the Lout Desert in Iran and in the Sonora Desert in Mexico. Namely: a nice and enjoyable 80.8°C (177,44°F). Pretty much cooking temperature.
80.8°C is a full ten degrees higher than the previous world record (70.7°C) set in 2005, they write in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.
Despite extremes, the engine of life struggles on
Despite these near-perpetual oven conditions, life found a way. Local species are still hanging on, and even adapting. In 2017, GEO visited the Dacht-e Lout and noted the admirable resilience of dragonflies, geckos, mice, lizards, foxes and snakes, which scientists see mainly at night, once the sands and rocks have cooled enough not to sear paws, skin and scale.
The greatest daytime temperature range, 81.8°C, was measured in the Qaidam basin, a desert region in the north-eastern Tibetan plateau. The coldest place on Earth is Antarctica, with a record minimum temperature of -110.9°C.