To complement our recent “Highest/Lowest” list, we have compiled some more superlatives for your reading pleasure.
The Hottest Place on Earth
Last time, we discussed the center of the earth, which is very hot. With that in mind, we’re going to relegate this list to mostly surface-level natural things. That way, we curtail the inevitable argument over which furnace, smelter, or particle
accelerator is technically hottest.
That said, the hottest place on Earth is still disputed. Heat bursts are to be considered, they involve wind and pressure variations, and aren’t well-understood, but they usually do not last long and extreme reports have not been verified. The
hottest confirmed temperature was 134 °F in Death Valley, California, in July of 1913. A record of 136 °F was held by Aziziya, Libya from 1922 until 2012, when it was disqualified over an alleged recorder error. The same people who disqualified Aziziya’s record would like to see the current Death Valley record taken down as well, in favor of another Death Valley record of 129 °F.
Incidentally, if you’re looking for the highest average temperature, Dallol, Ethiopia had the highest annual average temperature from 1960 to 1966, at 93.9 °F over that span of time.
The Coldest Place on Earth
The coldest recorded temperature is from Antarctica, recorded as -128.6 °F at Vostok Station in 1983. The lowest average temperature is also in Antarctica.
The Wettest Place on Earth
We could say “the ocean,” but we’re trying to relegate this to the land. So that means that the wettest place on Earth is probably the place that receives the most rain. Given its monsoons, it is no surprise that most long-term records are found in East India. Cherrapunji boasts the highest annual rainfall, totaling 1,042 inches from 1860-1861. Mawsynram, another town about 7.5 miles to the East, currently holds the record for the highest average rainfall, getting approximately 467.4 inches per year. That record is contested by two towns in Colombia, Lopez del Micay and Lloró, both of which boasted higher averages for many years.
The Driest Place on Earth
This record is also contested, this time by two towns in Chile. They exist in the Atacama Desert, flanked by tall mountain ranges, receiving relatively low moisture by nearby oceans. Arica, a port city, gets between .04 inches and .12 inches of rain per year, but Quillagua, an oasis in the desert, reportedly receives .0079 inches or less every year.
BONUS! The Quietest Place on Earth
This one is not natural, since we’d be arguing all day over whether falling trees make sound if no one is around to hear it. But this is beyond cool so we need to share it with you.
There’s an “anechoic chamber” at Orfield Laboratories in Minnesota where the ambient noise is -9.4 decibels. That’s right: negative decibels. The place looks like a mad scientist’s torture chamber, covered in giant spikes: imagine a normal sound-cancelling space, like a recording studio, then extremely exaggerate the walls, and you get a sense of what we’re talking about. It’s used for training astronauts and testing mechanical products’ loudness, but its effects on people seem like its most interesting qualities.
It’s so quiet in there that people wind up listening to their own pulse, lungs, and stomach. People have trouble walking in there, since they can’t hear their footsteps. The longest any person has been able to stay inside is 45 minutes, since our sensory perceptions are so altered.