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Earth’s scorching desert heat tops 80C

Charlotte Edwards, May 25, 2021 6:30PM The Sun

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Visitors walk near a sign warning of extreme heat danger on August 17, 2020 in Death Valley National Park, California, US. Picture: Getty Images/AFP media_cameraVisitors walk near a sign warning of extreme heat danger on August 17, 2020 in Death Valley National Park, California, US. Picture: Getty Images/AFP


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Death Valley is no longer the hottest place on Earth, according to scientists who have found two more scorching spots.

The desert valley in Eastern California, US has long held the record. It can get to 56.7C there.

However, research suggests Iran’s Lut Desert (Dasht-e Lut) and North America’s Sonoran Desert are even more extreme when it comes to heat.

A study about the deserts has been published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

It explains how satellite data from the past 20 years can prove the two regions sometimes reach around 80.8C.

Of the two deserts, the Lut Desert holds the title of the world’s highest land surface temperature.

This is based on data collected between 2002 and 2019.

The desert’s black rock areas tend to get the hottest and its mountains help to trap the heat in.

It’s so hot that life struggles to exist there and it’s widely known as the “Emptiness Plain”.

NASA satellite software helped the researchers determine land temperatures with more accuracy than previous studies.

The team thinks the Lut Desert is actually 10C hotter than was previously recorded.

Désert de Lout media_cameraLut Desert, Iran, where life struggles to exist. Picture: supplied

The Sonoran Desert on the US and Mexico border is also said to be hotter than Death Valley.

It’s surrounded by mountains that trap the warm air that sends ground temperatures soaring.

Sonoran Desert media_cameraSunset in Sonoran Desert, near Phoenix, Arizona, US, where the mountains trap the warm air. Picture: iStock

The researchers aren’t sure what effect climate change has had on the deserts becoming warmer than Death Valley.

They do note that the hottest temperatures in the two regions have been recorded in more recent years.

The authors wrote: “It is hoped the future research in this direction can shed light* on not only how extremes have changed in the past but how they will likely affect our planet in the future.”

Death Valley summer temperatures typically top 49C with lows of about 32C in the evenings.

The researchers also noted that Antarctica is the coldest place on Earth with lows of -110.9C.

This story was first published on The Sun and is republished with permission.

media_cameraSummer temperatures frequently top 49C in Death Valley, California, US.

Marble Bar in the Pilbara region of Western Australia is often called the hottest town in Australia. In 1924 the temperature didn’t drop below 100F (37.8C) for 161 consecutive days.

The hottest place by maximum mean* temperature is Wyndham, WA, with 35.6C, just ahead of Marble Bar with 35.3C.

The highest temperature ever recorded in Australia was at Oodnadatta, South Australia on January 2, 1960 when it got to 50.7C.


  • shed light: help explain something
  • mean: average


World temperature record set at Death Valley

Mystery of Death Valley’s sliding stones

Antarctica’s hottest day ever recorded

Australia’s record heat


  1. Where is the Lut Desert?
  2. In which US state is Death Valley?
  3. From which years was the satellite data?
  4. How hot was it on January 2, 1960 at Oodnadatta?
  5. In which Australian state is Marble Bar?


1. The Emptiness Plain
After reading the Kids News article, visualise what you imagine these hottest places on earth to look like.

Draw a picture of how you imagine either Death Valley, the Lut Desert or the Sonoran Desert to look like. There are some descriptions in the article and the clue that not much life can exist there.

Share your picture with your classmates.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: Visual Arts, Critical and creative thinking

2. Extension
Write five mathematical observations you can conclude from reading this article. You could compare and calculate the differences between the hottest and coldest places on earth, compare the temperature where you live to these places, and so forth. Record your five observations below.


Time: allow 10 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: Mathematics

Up-level it
Scan through the article and see if you can locate three words that you consider to be basic, or low level. These are words we use all the time and that can be replaced by more sophisticated words. Words like “good” and “said” are examples of overused words.

Once you have found them, see if you can up-level them. Think of synonyms you could use instead of these basic words, but make sure they still fit into the context of the article.

Re-read the article with your new words. Did it make it better? Why/why not?

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