The World Meteorological Organization will examine any potential new temperature records as intense heatwaves grip the southern USA, Mediterranean, North Africa, Middle East and some countries in Asia, including China.
National meteorological and hydrological services have reported a number of daily and station temperature records. Some countries may also break national temperature records. These will be reflected in WMO’s State of the Global Climate report.
WMO is the recognized authority for verifying extreme weather records. It maintains an official Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes. This includes records of temperatures (globally and per hemisphere), rainfall, aridity, lightning and weather-related mortality.
“If there are any new extreme temperature records during the ongoing heatwaves, we will issue a quick preliminary assessment and then start detailed evaluations as part of our painstaking verification process,“ said Prof. Randall Cerveny, WMO Weather and Climate Extremes Rapporteur.
“Climate change and temperature increase has spurred a surge in reports of record weather and climate extremes, especially for heat. We have to make sure that these records are verified for the sake of scientific understanding and accuracy, » said Prof. Cerveny,
According to the Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes, the hottest temperature ever recorded was in Furnace Creek, Death Valley, California at 56.7°C on 10 July 1913.
WMO is currently verifying two temperature readings of 54.4°C (130°F), recorded at Death Valley, California, on 16 August 2020 and again on 9 July 2021. If validated, this would be the highest temperature on Earth since 1931 and third hottest temperature ever recorded on the planet.
The investigations are meticulous and so take time. Findings are published in peer-reviewed journals.
“Both the 2020 and 2021 sensors in Death Valley have to be dismantled and shipped to an independent testing calibration laboratory. One of the testings has been completed and we are awaiting the second,” says Prof. Cerveny.
An initial assessment indicated that the observations were legitimate. The equipment at Furnace Creek meteorological station is maintained regularly by the National Weather Service in Las Vegas. Preliminary findings indicate it was in proper working condition at the time of the observations.
Prof. Cerveny is President’s Professor of Geographical Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA.
European Temperature Record
WMO has accepted a new temperature record for continental Europe of 48.8°C (119.8 °F) measured in Sicily on 11 August 2021. A committee of experts has verified the accuracy of the temperature reading, but has not yet published the full report.
It is possible that this record may be broken in the coming days as the heatwave intensifies.
The previous verified record of highest maximum temperature for continental Europe is 48.0°C (118.4°F) and was set in Athens on 10 July 1977.
Other records of note
The second highest temperature was set in July 1931 in Kebili, Tunisia, at 55.0°C.
Other high temperature records include 54.0 °C in Mitribah, Kuwait, on 21 July 2016 and a second in Turbat, Pakistan, on 28 May 2017.
“Some weather historians have questioned the accuracy of old temperature records.
The WMO Archive for Weather & Climate Extremes is always willing to investigate any past extreme record when new credible evidence is presented. However, Both the US National Extremes Committee and the WMO Archive of weather and climate extremes accept the 1913 temperature observation,” says Prof. Cerveny.