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The article entitled "54 Celsius degrees in Iran, the highest temperature ever recorded?" says 56,6 Celsius may be the highest temperature ever recorded, in Death Valley, California, and it also mentions that Iran's heat index peaked at 61,2 Celsius in the event the story was about.

I ask this question because several cities in my province in Argentina are registering heat indexes of over 60 Celsius, with a maximum in the center of Santa Fe city of 65,7° Celsius.

So what was the highest temperature ever recorded on the surface of the Earth?

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    $\begingroup$ Are you asking about naturally occurring heat or would the heat from say an A-Bomb count? $\endgroup$ – BruceWayne Jan 3 at 0:18
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    $\begingroup$ Are you asking about heat index or temperature? $\endgroup$ – Ian MacDonald Jan 3 at 0:24
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    $\begingroup$ To @djsmiley2k's point, the answer is apparently 1,100°C. $\endgroup$ – ceejayoz Jan 3 at 14:11
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    $\begingroup$ and also until 1300 kelvin for natural fires I read, but if lava reaches 1100 celsius~=1400 kelvin $\endgroup$ – user12525 Jan 3 at 14:47
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    $\begingroup$ @djsmiley2k actually Guinness records used to list the hottest temperature as the area near a lightning bolt, where it can apparently reach close to 30000 degrees C. $\endgroup$ – Shalop Jan 3 at 17:03
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The record the article is referring about seems to be the same as registered at Guiness World Records:

On 13 September 2012 the World Meteorological Organisation disqualified the record for the highest recorded temperature, exactly 90 years after it had been established at El Azizia, Libya, with a measurement of 58°C. The official highest recorded temperature is now 56.7°C (134°F), which was measured on 10 July 1913 at Greenland Ranch, Death Valley, California, USA.

Those records are usually well researched, and in this case it matches what is reported by the WMO. Since 2007, the WMO Commission for Climatology (CCl) has maintained the Archive of World Weather and Climate Extremes. In that archive, the same record is reported as the current highest temperature ever recorded:

enter image description here

More details about the record are described here. The official WMO press release about the invalidation of the 1922 El Azizia record can be found here.

It is surprising however, that with most the hottest years on record happening in the last few decades, the maximum recorded temperature is still from 1913.

Some people have questioned the reliability of those old measurements. More recent and much more reliable measurements seem to top-up at about 54.0°C as pointed out by a very interesting article brought up by @Plutor in the comments.

Note that you are mixing temperature and heat index in your question. Make sure you understand the difference.

PS: "Greenland" Ranch... a rather sarcastic name for such a place.

enter image description here

Photograph of old Greenland Ranch Station, California, USA (source)

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    $\begingroup$ I remember seeing an article researching one of the old heat records, and showing that it was probably not correct. I can't remember of it was Death Valley or otherwise. Have you heard of that? I can't find the article now. $\endgroup$ – Gimelist Jan 3 at 0:48
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    $\begingroup$ @Gimelist It might be the one at El Azizia that is mention in the quote above. I've added a link to the press release now. The WMO is constantly evaluating record claims, like this recent one in Antractica public.wmo.int/en/resources/meteoworld/… $\endgroup$ – Camilo Rada Jan 3 at 1:22
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    $\begingroup$ Here's the article about the likely inaccuracies of old high measurements: wunderground.com/blog/weatherhistorian/… $\endgroup$ – Plutor Jan 3 at 2:02
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    $\begingroup$ @Plutor Very interesting article. Thanks for sharing it. I'll add a comment about that in my answer. $\endgroup$ – Camilo Rada Jan 3 at 2:11
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    $\begingroup$ Regarding “heat index,” I believe the highest one ever recorded (according to the modern US formula) is about 80 degrees C in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia when a temperature of 42 C was coupled with a world record dew point temperature of 35 C. Places such as Bandar Abbas in Iran reach a heat index of 60 C semi-frequently during summer, according to historical records available on Wunderground and elsewhere. $\endgroup$ – Shalop Jan 3 at 17:01
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The Hadean era covers the time from the formation of the Earth until 4bn years ago. It was characterized by a surface of molten rock, due to repeated meteor strikes, volcanism and radioactive decay.

"Liquid water oceans existed despite the surface temperature of 230 °C (446 °F) because of the atmospheric pressure of the heavy carbon dioxide atmosphere."

Source: Wikipedia, "Origin of water" (*Study from Sleep et al,2001)

Whether this counts as "recorded" is another matter. No-one measured it with a thermometer, but it can be modelled using palaeo-climatology principles.


N. H. Sleep; K. Zahnle & P. S. Neuhoff. "Inaugural Article: Initiation of clement surface conditions on the earliest Earth" Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Mar 2001, 98 (7) 3666-3672; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.071045698 Published in PNAS

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    $\begingroup$ This is not a useful interpretation of highest temperature recorded. There's higher temperatures measured at the surface of the Earth during volcanic eruptions and forest fires. Those are not usually accepted as temperature extremes when discussing the weather. And certainly, the estimated temperatures during the Hadean era are coming from models and not measurements. $\endgroup$ – gerrit Jan 4 at 12:20
  • $\begingroup$ @gerrit I'm simply claiming that the climate in the Hadean was hotter than at present, because the OP mentions examples of climate, not individual events. But thank you for confirming that no-one was around to measure Hadean temperatures. $\endgroup$ – Boodysaspie Jan 4 at 21:51

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