The Hottest Spot on Earth: The Lut Desert in Iran

Posted on April 11, 2012

Lut Desert Temps Landsat July 1999

The satellite image above shows a portion of the Lut Desert in Iran captured in July, 1999. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has the highest temperature ever measured on Earth as El Azizia, Libya, which reached 58.0°C (136.4°F) on September 13, 1922. However, satellite images and data from Landsat 7 tell a different story.

David Mildrexler from the University of Montana says, "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. The majority of Earth's hottest spots are simply not being directly measured by ground-based instruments."

NASA Earth Observatory reports that in five of the seven years - 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2009 - the highest surface temperature on Earth was found in the Lut Desert. The single highest LST recorded in any year, in any region, occurred there in 2005, when MODIS recorded a temperature of 70.7°C (159.3°F) - more than 12°C (22°F) warmer than the official air temperature record from Libya.

Photo: NASA images by Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon, using Landsat 7 data from the USGS Global Visualization Viewer.