Researchers have found that the maximum surface temperature is not present in the Death Valley

Fareeha Arshad
Photo byPhoto by Halima Bouchouicha on Unsplash

Using high-resolution satellite data, researchers have identified the Lut Desert in Iran and the Sonoran Desert in North America as having Earth's most extreme land surface temperatures. While Death Valley in California is known for its hot air temperatures, the Lut Desert and the Sonoran Desert experience even higher surface temperatures.

The Lut Desert, surrounded by mountains, regularly reached blistering highs between 2002 and 2019, with the sand and black volcanic rock trapping hot air above the dunes. The Sonoran Desert, located along the US-Mexico border, experiences similar extremes due to its low elevation and mountainous surroundings, which trap heat in the arid basin.

The Sonoran Desert experiences similar extreme temperatures, albeit less frequently than the Lut Desert. It remains uncertain to what extent climate change has contributed to these extreme temperatures, but recent years, particularly during the La Niña climate oscillation, have witnessed the hottest recorded days.

In addition to identifying the hottest land on Earth, the study also determined the coldest place, which is Antarctica. Satellite data showed that previous estimates had underestimated its lowest temperature, which was recorded as -110.9 °C (-199.6 °F). Antarctica's weak incoming sunlight, reflection of rays by snow and ice, strong winds, and low-pressure systems contribute to its extremely cold surface.

The authors emphasize the need for further research on remote land areas not covered by weather stations to understand better how ground temperatures are changing in modern times. Investigating the response of land surfaces under different emission scenarios can help illuminate the past changes in extremes and provide insights into their future impact on the planet.

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I am a scientist by profession and a historian by passion. I mostly write about history and science.

Texas State

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