Dunes in Death Valley. (Photo : Wikimedia Commons)
Death Valley wasn't given its name for no reason. The eastern-California desert recorded a sizzling 134 degrees Fahrenheit, or 56.7 degrees Celsius temperature back in 1913.
That temperature, however, was not recognized as the hottest land temperature ever recorded for the last 90 years. On September 13, 1922 El Aziza, Libya claimed a temperature 136.4 degrees Fahrenheit, or 58 degrees Celsius.
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But it looks like the Death Valley temperature will be recognized as the new record because an international group of scientists have determined that the Libyan reading was inaccurate.
"We found systematic errors in the 1922 reading," said Randy Cerveny, an Arizona State University President's Professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning.
"This change to the record books required significant sleuthing and a lot of forensic records work," added Cerveny, who also is the person responsible for keeping worldwide weather records for the World Meteorological Organization.
The 1922 temperature was recorded at an Italian army base, and the international team listed five main factors for overturning the Libyan record.
"They included the use of antiquated instrumentation, a likely inexperienced observer, an observation site which was not representative of the desert surroundings, poor matching of the extreme to other nearby locations and poor matching to subsequent temperatures recorded at the site," says the Arizona State University press release.
The biggest of these concerns was an inexperienced user who operated a Six-Bellini thermometer, which was outdated even back in 1922. The scientists concluded the margin of error was as much as 12.6 degrees Fahrenheit, or 7 degrees Celsius.
"One of the problems with a Six-Bellini thermometer is that the indicator - the pointer - to the temperature scale could conceivably be read at the top of the pointer or the bottom of the pointer," Cerveny explained. "If an inexperienced observer used the top of the pointer rather than the bottom, he would have been as much as 7 Celsius in error. "