Death Valley Wins!
How hot can it get on Earth? It is a sort of dubious honor to be the hottest place, but some place has to be the record holder. A World Meteorological Organization panel has concluded that the all-time heat record held for exactly 90 years by El Azizia in Libya is invalid because of an error in recording the temperature. The announcement follows a danger-fraught investigation during the 2011 Libyan revolution. Death Valley National Park in California, USA, now officially holds the title of the world's hottest place - as symbolic for meteorologists as Mt. Everest is for geographers.
El Azizia, is a city and the capital of the Jafara district in northwestern Libya, 25 miles southwest of Tripoli. It is a major trade center of the Sahel Jeffare plateau, being on a trade route from the coast to the Nafusa Mountains and the Fezzan region to the south. It is on the edge of the Sahara desert.
Death Valley is a desert valley located in Eastern California. Situated within the Mojave Desert, it has the lowest, driest, and hottest locations in North America. Death Valley now officially holds the record for the highest reliably reported temperature in the world, 134 °F (56.7 °C) at Furnace Creek on July 10, 1913.
During 2010-2011, a WMO Commission of Climatology special international panel of experts conducted an in-depth investigation of the long-held world-record temperature extreme of 136.4 ºF. That temperature (often cited by numerous sources as the highest surface temperature for the planet) was recorded at El Azizia. The investigation was conducted with the support of the Libyan National Meteorological Centre for the WMO Commission of Climatology World Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes (http://wmo.asu.edu/), the official WMO world meteorology-verified record of weather and climate extremes.
The WMO evaluation committee concluded the most compelling scenario for the 1922 event was that a new and inexperienced observer, not trained in the use of an unsuitable replacement instrument that could be easily misread, improperly recorded the observation and was consequently in error by about seven degrees Celsius.
Based on these findings, the WMO Commission of Climatology World Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes has invalidated the 58ºC temperature extreme measured at El Azizia in 1922.
Consequently, the WMO assessment is that the official highest recorded surface temperature of 56.7°C (134°F) was measured on 10 July 1913 at Greenland Ranch (Death Valley), California, USA. Full details of the assessment are given in the on-line issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-D-12-00093.1).
For further information see WMO.
Death Valley image via Wikipedia.