What Is the Highest Temperature Ever Recorded?

The World's Highest Temperatures For Each Continent

Furnace Creek, Death Valley
A digital reading indicates that the temperature is 120 degrees Fahrenheit at Furnace Creek in Death Valley on a late afternoon in early September. Getty Images

The Controversy

Until September 2012, the world record for the world's hottest temperature was held by Al Aziziyah, Libya with a high temperature of 136.4°F (58°C) reached on September 13, 1922. However, the World Meteorological Organization determined that the world's former record high temperature was miscalculated by about 12.6°F (7°C).

The WMO determined that the individual responsible for reading the thermometer was, "a new and inexperienced observer, not trained in the use of an unsuitable replacement instrument that could be easily misread, [and] improperly recorded the observation."

The World's Highest Temperature Ever (Properly) Recorded

Therefore the world's record high temperature of 134.0°F (56.7°C) is held by Furnace Creek Ranch in Death Valley, California. That global high temperature was attained on July 10, 1913.

The global high temperature also serves as the high temperature for North America. Death Valley is, of course, also the home of the lowest elevation in North America. 

Highest Temperature in Africa

While you might have thought that the world's highest temperature would have been recorded in equatorial Africa, it was not. The highest temperature ever recorded in Africa was 131.0°F (55.0°C) at Kebili, Tunisia, which is north Africa, on the northern edge of the Sahara Desert.

Highest Temperature in Asia

The world's highest temperature ever recorded on the massive continent of Asia was on the far western edge of Asia, near the junction between Asia and Africa.

The highest temperature in Asia was recorded in Tirat Tzvi in Israel. On June 21, 1942, the high temperature reached 129.2°F (54.0°C).

Tirat Tsvi is located in the Jordan Valley near the border with Jordan and south of the Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberias). Note that the record for the highest temperature in Asia is under investigation by the WMO.

Highest Temperature in Oceania

Higher temperatures tend to be recorded and experienced on continents. So, with the region of Oceania, it makes sense that the record high temperature was reached on Australia and not on one of the multitude of islands in the region. (Islands are always more temperate because the surrounding ocean mitigates the temperature extremes).

The highest temperature recorded in Australia was in Oodnadatta, South Australia, which is nearly in the center of the country, in the Stuart Range. At Oodnadatta, the high temperature of 123.0°F (50.7°C) was reached on January 2, 1960.

In the Southern Hemisphere, the month of January is in the middle of summer so climate extremes for Oceania, South America, and Antarctica all occur in December and January.

Highest Temperature in Europe

Athens, the capital of Greece, holds the record for the highest temperature ever recorded in Europe. The high temperature of 118.4°F (48.0°C) was reached on July 10, 1977, in Athens as well as in the town of Elefsina, located just northwest of Athens. Athens is located on the coast of the Aegean Sea, but apparently, the sea did not keep the greater Athens area very cool on July 10, 1977.

Highest Temperature in South America

On December 11, 1905, the highest temperature in South American history was recorded at 120°F (48.9°C) in Rivadavia, Argentina.

Rivadavia is located in northern Argentina, just south of the border with Paraguay in the Gran Chaco, east of the Andes. 

Highest Temperature in Antarctica

Finally, the lowest high-temperature extreme for the regions of the Earth comes from Antarctica. The high temperature for the southernmost continent was achieved at Vanda Station, Scott Coast on January 5, 1974, when the temperature reached an ice-melting 59°F (15°C)!

As of this writing, the WMO is investigating the report that there was an incredibly high temperature of 63.5°F (17.5°C) set at the Esperanza Research Station on March 24, 2015.

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Rosenberg, Matt. "What Is the Highest Temperature Ever Recorded?" ThoughtCo, Mar. 3, 2017, thoughtco.com/highest-temperature-ever-recorded-1435172. Rosenberg, Matt. (2017, March 3). What Is the Highest Temperature Ever Recorded? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/highest-temperature-ever-recorded-1435172 Rosenberg, Matt. "What Is the Highest Temperature Ever Recorded?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/highest-temperature-ever-recorded-1435172 (accessed November 23, 2017).