Environmental Extremes

No matter what your viewpoints are on the environment relating to climate change or global warming, the fact of the matter is we live on a planet that is over 4 billion years old. A planet that has a core temperature estimated to be between 4000 and 7000 degrees Celsius (approx. 7000-12500 degrees Fahrenheit). A planet that had surface temperatures ranging from minus 128.6 degrees F (Antarctica on July 21, 1983) to 136 degrees F (Libya on Sept 13, 1922).

Of course those are extreme temperatures, but there have been many environmental extremes over the years. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

First, did you know the United States experienced 96 weather-related disasters within the last 30 years – each of which caused over $1 billion in damages? The estimated total for these disasters exceeded $700 billion.

The majority of those disasters were caused by tropical storms or hurricanes. Other types of disasters included severe weather, heat waves, non-tropical floods, fires, blizzards, etc.

As far as which states were hit worst; Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and North Carolina all experienced between 31-35 weather-related disasters each.

WARMEST PLACE ON EARTH: Dallol, Ethiopia is generally referred to as the warmest place on Earth. Yearly temperatures average around 93 degrees F. Some of Dallol’s best known features include Dallol Mountain, its hot springs, salt canyons and salt pillars.

COLDEST INHABITED CITY ON EARTH: While most people consider the Antarctic to be the coldest place on Earth (as it does have the coldest recorded temperature on earth), the coldest year-round inhabited city on Earth is commonly regarded as Oymyakon, Siberia.

The Siberian winters in Oykyakon have gotten as low as -96 degrees F with an average winter temperature of -45 degrees F. While most people can’t even imagine living in temperatures that cold, people in Oykyakon are used to it. Schools don’t even close unless the temperature has reached at least -52 degrees F.

Take a look at this video and see what you think about living in the coldest inhabited place on Earth:

DRIEST PLACE ON EARTH: The Atacama Desert is easily considered the driest place on Earth. With an average rainfall of just 0.04 inches per year, rain is a scarce commodity. Some areas of the desert haven’t reported any rain since 1570!

Not only is the Atacama Desert dry, it is also large. So large (46,000 square miles) that it can be seen from outer space with the naked eye.

This image of Solar Evaporation Ponds in the Atacama Desert was taken by the Expedition 19 crew, back in May 2009, while they were aboard the International Space Station.

WETTEST PLACE ON EARTH: On the other extreme, we have the wettest place on Earth. Many people will tell you it’s Lloro, Columbia with 523.6 inches per year. However, according to the NCDC (National Climatic Data Center), that measurement was only an estimate and the actual wettest place on Earth is pretty close between Mawsynram, India and Mt. Waialeale in Kauai, Hawaii.

Mawsynram is a village in North-Eastern India. Its altitude is about 4600 feet and its highest average precipitation was about 467 inches. Mt. Waialeale on Kauai has an altitude of about 5200 feet with an average yearly precipitation of 444 inches. Its highest, according to the NCDC was 460 inches.

Now I know there are many environmental extremes I could bring up, including the devastating earthquakes in Haiti.┬áthe cold extremes being felt across New England and in other places around the world (despite the last decade being the warmest on record) and more. But the real key to remember is the world is constantly changing and while we can’t necessarily take on Mother Nature, we can each do our part to take care of the Earth. What actions are you taking to care for the Earth?


  • Stephanie

    Fascinating information! I’m going to bookmark this to come back to these great facts. From one extreme to another – thanks again!

  • Ryan

    One of my favorite extreme temperatures is the warmest recorded temperature in Antarctica being 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Just the thought of being outside in Antarctica in shorts and a T-shirt and being a little chilly is just cool to me.

  • The Travelers Zone

    This is such great information! I feel absolutely thrilled to read such great information.Very much appreciated.Thanks for the great post.

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