54.4 degrees Celsius: Record-breaking heat in Death Valley

It hasn’t been that hot for more than 100 years. In Death Valley in the US state of California, 54.4 degrees Celsius were measured on Sunday. That would be one of the highest temperatures ever recorded – if the value is confirmed.

In Death Valley in the US state of California, known for its high temperatures, a record-breaking temperature was measured on Sunday. The US National Weather Service tweeted that the heat at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center had reached 130 degrees Fahrenheit (around 54.4 degrees Celsius).

If the value is confirmed, it will be the highest since July 1913. At that time, 56.7 degrees were measured at the Greenland Ranch in Death Valley – the previous world record. But the measurement at that time is controversial.

Measurement errors instead of records?

A study by the weather historian Christopher Burt in 2016 came to the conclusion that the value was “not possible” meteorologically. The most likely explanation is a mistake. Burt also doubts the world’s second highest measurement – 55 degrees in Kebili in Tunisia.

There are always problems with incorrect measurements: For a long time, El Asisija in Libya topped the list of the hottest places on earth. A temperature of 58 degrees Celsius was found there in September 1922. A few years ago, however, the World Meteorological Organization withdrew – the value could no longer be recognized due to problems with the instruments and a measurement on a surface similar to asphalt. In contrast, the 54 degrees measured in Mitribah in Kuwait in July 2016 are still valid.

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Temperature measurement is being investigated

Because the current measurement is so high, it should now be examined more closely, the National Weather Service said. A “Climate Extremes Committee” should deal with the measured value.

Death Valley is the hottest, driest place and, at up to 86 meters below sea level, one of the deepest places in the United States. The shape of the narrow basin contributes significantly to the temperatures, because the steep mountains around it radiate the heat back into the valley. In addition, the clear and dry air and the sparse vegetation on plants ensure that the soil is very warm in the sunlight.

Deutschlandfunk reported on this topic on August 17, 2020 at 3:00 p.m.