The Hottest Place On Earth Loses Its Title

For nearly a century, the Mediterranean city of El Azizia in northern Libya has held the official title for having been the hottest place on earth ever recorded. However, the title was taken away after an investigation by the World Meteorological Organization discovered that the measurement was probably bungled by someone who misread a thermometer. A panel of experts convened to raise concerns over the historic claim that the mercury reached 136º F in 1922 at what was then an Italian army base on the Libyan coast. Doubt was cast over the record when the group ruled that the reading was taken over an asphalt surface, which would be hotter than its desert surroundings, and the operator was inexperienced in using the equipment. Consequently, the title of hottest place on earth passed to Death Valley in California, where the temperature reached 134º in 1913. The importance of getting the record straight is not just to science, but to modern adaptation to climate change.