World's hottest place identified

April 16, 2012 at 5:01 PM   |   Comments

MISSOULA, Mont., April 16 (UPI) -- El Azizia, Libya, is often called "the world's hottest place," but satellite temperature data shows the honor should go elsewhere, U.S. researchers say.

El Azizia took what was assumed to be the record for highest temperature ever recorded when on Sept. 13, 1922, a thermometer on a weather station hit a blistering 136 degrees Fahrenheit.

But new research by a University of Montana team using data from the U.S. Geological Survey's Landsat satellites says El Azizia, hot as it may get, isn't the hottest place on Earth, OurAmazingPlanet reported Monday.

"Most of the places that call themselves the hottest on Earth are not even serious contenders," researcher Steven Running, who with colleagues examined seven years of satellite infrared data indicating surface Earth temperatures, said.

The winner?

The Lut Desert in Iran, which in 2005 measured a mind-boggling 159.3 degrees Fahrenheit.

So why hadn't it made the list of hottest places previously?

"The Earth's hot deserts -- such as the Sahara, the Gobi, the Sonoran and the Lut -- are climatically harsh and so remote that access for routine measurements and maintenance of a weather station is impractical," researcher David Mildrexler said.

"The majority of Earth's hottest spots are simply not being directly measured by ground-based instruments."

Satellites can get a reading on these hard-to-reach, harsh locations because they can scan every piece of the Earth's surface, researches said.

The Lut has all the conditions for extreme temperatures, they said; dry, rocky and dark-colored lands, which are good at absorbing heat, as opposed to lighter sands, which tend to reflect more sunlight.

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