Is Lut Desert the hottest place on the Earth?
The incredible ecosystem of Earth’s hottest spot
The Lut Desert protects a globally-recognized iconic hot desert landscape, one of the hottest places on earth. It is renowned for its spectacular series of landforms, namely the yardangs (massive corrugated ridges) in the west of the property and the sand-sea in the east. The yardangs are so large and impressive that they can be seen easily from space. Lut is particularly significant for the great variety of desert landform types found in a relatively small area.
Key attributes of the aesthetic values of the unspoilt property relate to the diversity and sheer scale of its landforms; a visually stunning mosaic of desert colours; and uninterrupted vistas across huge and varied dune systems that transition into large flat desert pavement areas.
Iran is one of the biggest countries in the world with different types of climates and nature. The country is known as “four season country” for two reasons. First, there are four specific seasons during a year, and second it is sometimes possible to experience different types of weather on a single day!
Talking about different types of natures in the country, it is worth knowing that about one-third of Iran is desert, including Lut Desert, and the Dasht-e Kavir. It is said that Lut Desert is home to the hottest recorded spot on the earth’s surface according to the NASA’s satellite. However, there are some doubts about this idea, so let’s take a deeper look into this matter.
Before talking about whether the Lut Desert is the hottest place or not, it is good to know that the desert is a large salt desert, and actually the world’s 27th-largest desert with an area of 51,800 square kilometers (20,000 square miles). In 2016, it was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
To answer the question about the hottest place on the Earth, we have to look at the scientific evidence. In 1913, scientists in Death Valley, California measured a temperature of 134°F (56.7°C) and declared it the hottest temperature ever recorded. Later in 1922, a weather station in Libya recorded a temperature of 136.4°F (58.0°C). The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recognized this observation as the hottest air temperature recorded on Earth for some time.
However, according to another research by the University of Montana, using data from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Landsat satellites, neither of these places is the hottest spot in the world.
In a statement by NASA from a team member, “Most of the places that call themselves the hottest on Earth are not even serious contenders”.
In seven years, Running and his colleagues examined infrared data from the Landsat satellites, and found that the winner in five of those years — 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009 — was actually the Lut Desert in Iran. In 2005, a temperature of 159.3°F (70.7°C) was measured, which was the highest temperature ever officially confirmed for a location on Earth. However, the Lut Desert did not encounter the highest temperature every year.
The reason Lut didn’t previously make the list was that “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,” said team member David Mildrexler.
Queensland, Australia had the highest temperature in 2003, with the record of 156.7°F (69.3°C), and in 2008, Turpan Basin in China had the highest temperature on the earth with the temperature of 152.2°F (66.8°C). It is worth knowing that the Turpan Basin is covered with dark red sandstone that heats up the extreme temperature, especially in the afternoon sun.
While there are a number of factors that influence the land surface temperature (LST), for instance, changes in solar radiation, changes in land cover and changes in atmospheric conditions, therefore, dry, rocky and dark-colored lands are good at absorbing heat, while lighter sand will tend to reflect more sunlight.
However, some scientists argue that “hottest place” on the earth should be framed in terms of land temperature, not air temperature. And years of analysis have revealed that parts of Iran and Australia are particularly hot from an LST perspective.
Hi! I’m Katayon! I love traveling and enjoy introducing my beloved country; Iran, to people living in the four corners of the world! Please follow my posts to become more familiar with this amazing and historical country!