There’s hot, and then there’s 129.2 degrees Fahrenheit hot.
Ahvaz, Iran, which is a city of 1.1 million people in the country’s southwest desert region, appears to have set not only Iran’s hottest temperature on record Thursday, but also set a record for June heat in all of mainland Asia. It also may have tied the all-time global heat record.
A temperature reading of 53.7 degrees Celsius, or 128.7 degrees Fahrenheit, was reported in Ahvaz by Etienne Kapikian, a meteorologist at MeteoFrance. Kapikian posted a tweet saying that level of heat was a “new absolute national record of reliable Iranian heat” and that it was the hottest temperature ever recorded in June across mainland Asia.
Iran’s previous hottest temperature was 127.4 degrees Fahrenheit. According to Weather Underground, the temperature Kapikian cited was not actually the highest reading that Ahvaz reached on Thursday.
At 4:51 p.m. local time, Weather Underground’s website showed the temperature in Ahvaz climbed to 129.2 degrees Fahrenheit, with a heat index at an almost unimaginably hot 142.1 degrees. If verified, this would tie the all-time heat record for anywhere in the Eastern Hemisphere.
As the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang blog points out, if further investigation proves that the 129.2-degree reading is accurate, “… It would arguably tie the hottest temperature ever reliably measured on Earth.”
Christopher Burt, a weather historian for Weather Underground, has found that two 129.2-degree Fahrenheit readings are likely the hottest reliably recorded temperatures worldwide. One of these records was set just last year in nearby Mitribah, Kuwait.
The World Meteorological Organization, a U.N. agency, will need to review the 129.2-degree reading to determine if the thermometer used was reliable, and validate the all-time Iranian record as well as the mainland Asia record.
Officially, though, the hottest temperature on Earth was set in Death Valley, California, on July 10, 1913, when the temperature hit 134 degrees Fahrenheit. Burt, along with other experts, has criticized that reading, noting that nearby locations did not get anywhere near as hot on that day, and the 134-degree mark may have been due to an observer error.
Global warming has dramatically elevated the odds of heat extremes in many parts of the world. A study published in 2015 found that if greenhouse gas emissions are not dramatically curtailed in the next few decades, parts of the Middle East will become too hot for the human body to tolerate, thereby cutting economic output.
An analysis published Thursday by the research and journalism organization Climate Central found that global warming made a recent heat wave in western Europe, which contributed to deadly wildfires in Portugal, up to 10 times more likely than it would have been without human emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane.