The changeable nature of Britain’s weather means it’s always a favourite topic of conversation but for some countries, weather fluctuations are less common and extreme heat remains the norm. Where are the hottest places on the planet, and how does the UK compare with its own temperature highs?
British summers are usually a let-down, but the summer of 2018 was a different kettle of fish. With an average temperature of 15.8C, the UK experienced the joint hottest summer since records began in 1910. Last year’s hottest day in the UK was recorded on 26 July in Faversham in Kent, reaching 35.3C. However, the highest temperature ever recorded in the UK was 38.5C in 2003, also in Faversham.
Experts reckon the heatwave of 2018 was caused by an area of high pressure sitting over the UK that refused to budge for several weeks. Other notable UK heatwaves occurred during the summers of 1976, 2003 and 2006.
Britain’s temperature highs might have smashed records on home ground, but they pale in comparison to other places on the planet.
California’s aptly named Death Valley is the place that holds the world record for the hottest air temperature, hitting a blazing 56.7C in 1913. Even on an average day, you can expect the mercury to sit at around 47C. Tucked in a valley surrounded by mountains, wind and water rarely reach Death Valley, meaning that the still air literally bakes in the sun. Inevitably, humans don’t live here, but some plants and animals manage to survive the challenging conditions.
The desert town of Aziziyah in Libya also hit a record temperature high when the thermometer topped 58C in 1922, although there has been debate over the accuracy of this figure. Having said that, temperatures still climb up to 48C most summers.
With daily temperatures hovering around the 41C mark, Dallol in Ethiopia boasts the highest average temperature on Earth of any inhabited location. Similar temperatures are also regularly recorded in Sudan’s Wadi Halfa, where this city can go for several years without any rainfall.
The world’s hottest ground temperature has been recorded in Iran at Dasht-e Loot, measuring a whopping 70.7C. Other locations that have seen the mercury pass the 50C degree mark include Tirat Zvi in Israel, Kebili in Tunisia, Ghadames in Libya and Bandar-e Mahshahr in Iran.
Adapting to the heat
Many of these extreme temperature hotspots are located close to deserts or the equator, meaning that burning sunshine is part and parcel of everyday life, but how do inhabitants cope with the punishing heat?
Most people learn to adapt, avoiding the heat as much as possible. Outdoor workers begin their daily activities at the crack of dawn, staying indoors in air-conditioned buildings for most of the day, and then returning outside in the cooler evening. Those people living near pools of water, such as lakes or natural springs, often make use of these to cool down. Ironically, because inhabitants hide away from the sun, vitamin D deficiency is often a problem in very hot climates.
In Ghadames in Libya, where average temperatures top 40C, mud huts have been built for 7,000 residents to shelter from the baking sunlight. Similar temperatures are also a feature in the Australian desert town of Coober Pedy. Locals live in cool underground caves called dugouts to escape the heat.
Residents of Tirat Zvi in Israel often sleep outdoors on sweltering nights and keep the temperature down by throwing water on wooden floors. They also fix a dripper system to windows made from wet straw that encourages cooler air to flow into homes.
While inhabitants learn to adapt to these extreme temperatures, visitors not used to these conditions must also live like the locals in order to avoid heatstroke. For many, though, such scorching temperatures would be far too hot to handle!
Whatever levels of heat you’re subjected to, there’s no need to put up with uncomfortable conditions. With the wide range of high-quality air-conditioning systems available from Klima-Therm, you can always keep your cool.