Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by LaShon. LaShon Wonders, “What is the hottest place on earth?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, LaShon!

Is it summer where you live? It may not yet be the dog days of summer, but it may be starting to warm up nicely!

Wonder Friends know that we’ve already visited the coldest place on Earth. Now it’s time to put on our short-sleeve shirts and shorts and head to the hottest place on Earth!

The Earth is a huge place, and two thirds of it is covered in water. The other third is dry land that we can live on. But did you know that one third of that dry land is actually desert that’s too hot and dry to support much life?

Most of the deserts of the world are near the equator. This means they’re in very hot climates. A lack of moisture also makes them dry and not a good place to live.

The deserts of the world are where we find most of the hottest places on Earth. Answering the question of where the hottest place on Earth is, though, isn’t quite as easy as it sounds. For example, the place with the hottest temperature ever recorded might not be the hottest place year-round.

It’s also important to understand the difference between surface temperature and air temperature. Surface temperature measures how hot or cold it is on the ground. Have you ever touched a sidewalk on a hot summer day? If so, you may already know that surfaces can be quite a bit hotter than the air! Air temperature is measured at about four feet (1.2 meters) above the ground.

To date, the hottest surface temperature ever recorded was 159.26° F in 2005 in the Lut Desert in Iran. This area of desert in Iran is so desolate that no life—not even bacteria—has been found there.

The hottest part of this desert is an area of over 180 square miles called the Gandom Beryan, which means “toasted wheat.” Walking across its black volcanic rock in the heat of the day would be like walking on burning coals!

The highest air temperature on record is 136° F. This was reached in El Azizia, Libya, in 1922. Wow! Those are some hot temperatures. But you don’t have to go all the way around the world to find temperatures approaching those highs. Instead, you could just go to California!

Death Valley, California, sits in the Mojave Desert. It routinely sees air temperatures well above 100° F in the summer, leading many people to call it the hottest place on Earth. Death Valley does tend to maintain extreme temperatures for longer periods of time than most other places, even deserts. The region’s highest recorded temperature was 134° F on July 10, 1913! However, Death Valley reached 130° F as recently as 2020.

As hot as all of these places are, though, there’s one other place that maintains the highest average temperature year-round. That honor goes to Dallol, Ethiopia. Day in, day out, all throughout the year, Dallol’s average temperature reaches almost 94° F!

Dallol sits in an area known as the Danakil Depression. High temperatures in the area can regularly reach over 115° F. Formerly a mining town, Dallol is now mainly a ghost town that can only be reached via camel.

As Earth continues to experience climate change, many places around the world are seeing their hottest years on record. What will be the hottest place on Earth ten years from now? Only time will tell.

Standards: NGSS.ESS2.D, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.W.7, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.1

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Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day features a horse that never runs!