I see from a news report that the all-time high temperature, anywhere on Earth, is 129 F. But temperatures within 10 degrees of that record are not rare, and temperatures within 20 degrees are pretty widespread. Why does there seem to be a ceiling on the high temperature, such that a lot of places approach that temperature and don't exceed it? A related question -- why isn't the high temperature much higher, such as, I don't know, 150 degrees?

In contrast, the coldest temperature is -129 F, and few places ever get anywhere near that. Why is there such a disparity between high temperatures and low temperatures in that way?

EDIT: By the way, I apologize for the US-centric temperature measurements. I hope I got the point across nonetheless.

  • $\begingroup$ The point of "getting the point across" is doing so in a commonly accepted way. That includes (but is not limited to) posting the source and the willingness to perform multiplications. I know, it is not necessary that the poster does it, it's enough if everybody else does it ;-) $\endgroup$
    – user20217
    Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 8:41
  • $\begingroup$ Your related question should be posted as a separate one, it's better to keep one question per post. As for the main question itself: you seem to assume that temperatures follow a normal distribution, but there is no reason for it being this way. It could very well follow a log-normal distribution, or something else. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 9:16
  • $\begingroup$ The numbers aren't correct anyway, seems like a badly researched and overly simplifying news item, whatever it is. $\endgroup$
    – user20217
    Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 9:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Jean-MariePrival Thanks for responding. Yes, one question per post is a good idea. I don't believe that I'm making any assumptions about the distribution of temperatures; what I see is that there is apparently an asymmetry between high and low temperatures, and I'm wondering if someone has an explanation for that. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 17:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @a_donda I guess the units of measurement are a distraction. I'm pretty sure, though, that the question would be essentially the same in any units, and also essentially the same whether the high temperature were 129 or 134 or 132 or whatever. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 17:15

1 Answer 1


the coldest temperature is -129 F, and few places ever get anywhere near that.

This is at high altitudes in Antarctica. There are very few places with weather stations (geographically) near there.

There are more places with weather stations near the hottest places, so (because mathematical statistics theorem) there are more record max readings near the global max.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.