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.
Yardangs are bedrock features carved and streamlined by sandblasting. They cover about one third of the property and appear as massive and dramatic corrugations across the landscape with ridges and corridors oriented parallel to the dominant prevailing wind. The ridges are known as kaluts. In the Lut Desert some are up to 155 m high and their ridges can be followed for more than 40 km.
World's 27th-largest desert
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.
The hottest part of Dasht-e Lut is Gandom Beryan, a large plateau covered in dark lava, approximately 480 square kilometres (190 sq mi) in area. According to a local legend, the name (in translation from Persian — “Toasted wheat”) originates from an accident where a load of wheat was left in the desert which was then scorched by the heat in a few days.
U.S. Geological Survey's Landsat satellites
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.
Yardangs or Kaluts in Lut Desert, Kerman Province, Iran.
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.
Read More: Shahdad Desert: Magnificent Desert of the Kalouts in Iran
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.
Read More: Iran Desert Safari: 10 Breathtaking Photos of Lut Desert
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.