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El Azizia, Libya loses its heat record due to recording error


Improvements to meteorology have rendered the El Azizia record invalid (photo credit: Victor Korniyenko)
Improvements to meteorology have rendered the El Azizia record invalid (photo credit: Victor Korniyenko)

Cheryl Santa Maria, staff writer

September 13, 2012 — A 90 year-old heat record held by El Azizia, Libya has been rendered invalid by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) due to a recording error.

On September 13, 1922, temperatures allegedly climbed to 58ºC in El Azizia, Libya, about 40 kilometres southwest of Tripoli.

That was hot enough to earn the city a world-record for all-time heat -- a distinction it held for 90 years.

Now, evidence has rendered that record invalid.

“This investigation demonstrates that, because of continued improvements in meteorology and climatology, climate experts can now re-analyze past weather records in much more detail than ever before. The end result is an even better set of climate data for analysis of important global and regional questions involving climate variability and change,” said Professor Randall Cerveny, Rapporteur of Climate and Weather extremes for the WMO, in a statement.

A committee comprised of climate experts from nine countries conducted an analysis after identifying issues with the El Azizia record.

They concluded that the 58ºC was documented in error by an inexperienced observer, and that the actual temperature that day was probably closer to 51ºC.

The new heat record goes to Death Valley National Park in California, USA.

On July 10, 1913, a surface temperature of 56.7°C was measured in the region, which is known for its dry, scorching heat.

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