Death Valley records highest temperature ever on earth

Extreme Weather

Death Valley records highest temperature ever on earth

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Rising temperatures in California are likely to spawn wildfires across the state this year

At 3:41 p.m. on August 16, 2020, Southern California’s Death Valley recorded a temperature of 130 F (54 C), the hottest weather ever recorded on the planet.

Brandi Stewart, spokeswoman for Death Valley National Park, told The New York Times that the reason for the high temperatures in this region is the configuration of its below sea-level basin and surrounding mountains. The warm air gets entrapped within this space and circulates the region. 

If scientists are able to accurately verify the recorded temperature, it would be the highest ever recorded temperature on earth. Although higher temperatures have been recorded in the past in the Death Valley and in other regions of the world, such as the Sahara Desert, some of these locations are too remote to record an accurate temperature, according to Daniel Swain, climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Research suggests that as greenhouse gases spawned by humans continue to rise and heat the planet, more record-breaking heat waves are expected. Earlier this year, record breaking heat waves struck in Iraq and Turkey.

“I don’t think any of this is really surprising,” said Jeremy Pal, environmental engineering professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, to The New York times. “As climate continues to warm, we’d expect more of these events and more of these record-breaking temperatures.”

The heatwaves are accompanied by the fear of large fires across the state in the upcoming months, according to Swain. Due to global warming, California sees twice as many wildfires today that it did a generation ago. 

California has seen a disturbing temperature increase of 0.3 C per decade since the 1980s, along with a decline in precipitation. The detrimental combination of the two factors has resulted in a 40 percent increase per decade, in the area burned in California due to heat induced wildfires. 

“At this point, it’s certainly clear climate change is increasing in intensity and frequency everywhere,” Swain added. “Even in very different kinds of geographies and climates,”

Written by

Maheep Chawla

Maheep is a third-year undergraduate student at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. She is pursuing a major in Psychology. Previously, she has interned with a pre-school for children with special needs based in New Delhi. In the past, she has also written for her campus newspaper and the editorial department at UBC’s Psychology Student Association.