The World Meteorological Organization says temperatures of 54.4 degrees (Celsius) reported Sunday at Furnace Creek, Death Valley in the U.S. state of California, may be the third hottest on Earth.
The U.N. weather agency is assembling an international team of atmospheric scientists to verify the temperatures reported in Death Valley are legitimate. The WMO says that is a very complicated procedure and is likely to take several months to complete.
If validated, however, World Meteorological scientists say it would qualify as the third highest temperature ever recorded on the planet. The hottest temperature ever recorded was 56.7 degrees (Celsius) in Death Valley on July 10, 1913. The second hottest was set in July 1931 in Kebili, Tunisia, at 55 degrees (Celsius).
The scorching conditions come as sweltering heat grips the west coast of the United States, with temperatures reaching the high 30s and 40s. WMO spokeswoman Clare Nullis says the U.S. National Weather Service expects the intense heat to continue for a while.
“The National Weather Service in Las Vegas, which covers the Death Valley area, tweeted overnight, ‘We are in the midst of a long-duration extreme heat event. Another run at 130 degrees Fahrenheit plus temperatures in Death Valley remains possible,'” ,” said Nullis.
The WMO says extreme high temperatures are part of a global trend. It says July was the hottest July on record for the northern hemisphere, and Arctic sea ice was the lowest on record for the month.
It says Western and Central Europe experienced another heatwave last week, Japan recorded temperatures of more than 40 degrees (Celsius) Monday at Hamamatsu, and Siberia has experienced a prolonged heatwave.
The WMO currently is in the process of verifying the record high temperature of 38 degrees (Celsius) reported June 20 in Siberia. If proven, that would be the highest temperature ever recorded in the Arctic Circle.
Nullis tells VOA the relationship between climate change and the extreme weather events is inescapable.
“We are seeing more intense, extreme heat waves. More frequent. They are starting earlier and finishing later than in the past,” said Nullis. “This is consistent with everything that we expect from climate change. Of all the extreme weather events that we see, the relationship between heat and climate change is the one that we see that is clearest.”
Man-made climate change is caused by the emission of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane into the atmosphere. Scientists agree that drastically cutting greenhouse gas emissions is the key to tackling global warming.