World Meteorological Organization Assessment of the Purported World Record 58°C Temperature Extreme at El Azizia, Libya (13 September 1922)

Khalid I. El Fadli Climate and Climate Change Department, Libyan National Meteorological Center, Tripoli, Libya

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Randall S. Cerveny School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona

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Christopher C. Burt Weather Underground, LLC, San Francisco, California

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Philip Eden Chilterns Observatory Trust, Whipsnade, United Kingdom

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David Parker Met Office Hadley Centre, Exeter, United Kingdom

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Manola Brunet Centre for Climate Change, Department of Geography, University Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain, and Climatic Research Unit, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom

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Thomas C. Peterson NOAA/National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, North Carolina

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Gianpaolo Mordacchini Climatological Department, Italian Air Force Meteorological Service, Pomezia, Italy

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Vinicio Pelino Climatological Department, Italian Air Force Meteorological Service, Pomezia, Italy

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Pierre Bessemoulin Météo-France, Toulouse, France

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José Luis Stella Climatology Department, Servicio Meteorológico Nacional, Buenos Aires, Argentina

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Fatima Driouech Climate Studies Service, Direction de la Météorologie Nationale, Casablanca, Morocco

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M. M Abdel Wahab Department of Astronomy and Meteorology, Cairo University, Giza, Egypt

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Matthew B. Pace School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona

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On 13 September 1922, a temperature of 58°C (136.4°F) was purportedly recorded at El Azizia (approximately 40 km south-southwest of Tripoli) in what is now modern-day Libya. That temperature record of 58°C has been cited by numerous world-record sources as the highest recorded temperature for the planet. During 2010–11, a World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Commission of Climatology (CCl) special international panel of meteorological experts conducted an in-depth investigation of this record temperature for the WMO World Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes (http://wmo.asu.edu/). This committee identified five major concerns with the 1922 El Azizia temperature extreme record, specifically 1) potentially problematical instrumentation, 2) a probable new and inexperienced observer at the time of observation, 3) unrepresentative microclimate of the observation site, 4) poor correspondence of the extreme to other locations, and 5) poor comparison to subsequent temperature values recorded at the site. Based on these concerns, the WMO World Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes rejected this temperature extreme of 58°C as the highest temperature officially recorded on the planet. The WMO assessment is that the highest recorded surface temperature of 56.7°C (134°F) was measured on 10 July 1913 at Greenland Ranch (Death Valley), California.

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Randall S. Cerveny, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, Arizona State University, P.O. Box 875302, Tempe, AZ 85287-5302, E-mail: cerveny@asu.edu

On 13 September 1922, a temperature of 58°C (136.4°F) was purportedly recorded at El Azizia (approximately 40 km south-southwest of Tripoli) in what is now modern-day Libya. That temperature record of 58°C has been cited by numerous world-record sources as the highest recorded temperature for the planet. During 2010–11, a World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Commission of Climatology (CCl) special international panel of meteorological experts conducted an in-depth investigation of this record temperature for the WMO World Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes (http://wmo.asu.edu/). This committee identified five major concerns with the 1922 El Azizia temperature extreme record, specifically 1) potentially problematical instrumentation, 2) a probable new and inexperienced observer at the time of observation, 3) unrepresentative microclimate of the observation site, 4) poor correspondence of the extreme to other locations, and 5) poor comparison to subsequent temperature values recorded at the site. Based on these concerns, the WMO World Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes rejected this temperature extreme of 58°C as the highest temperature officially recorded on the planet. The WMO assessment is that the highest recorded surface temperature of 56.7°C (134°F) was measured on 10 July 1913 at Greenland Ranch (Death Valley), California.

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Randall S. Cerveny, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, Arizona State University, P.O. Box 875302, Tempe, AZ 85287-5302, E-mail: cerveny@asu.edu
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