WTF Fun Fact 13498 – Record High Temperature

Both Alaska and Hawaii share the same record high temperature of 100°F (37.8°C). It’s quite the surprise for many since Hawaii is a tropical paradise, while Alaska is often associated with icy landscapes and freezing temperatures. Let’s dive into this.

Setting the Stage for a Record-High Temperature

Alaska: Often termed “The Last Frontier,” Alaska is known for its vast wilderness, glacial landscapes, and cold climate. Its Arctic and subarctic climates lead to long, harsh winters and brief summers. However, Alaska isn’t just a frozen wasteland. It has a variety of microclimates, and during its short summer, some regions can get quite warm.

Hawaii: The Aloha State is synonymous with tropical paradise, boasting a warm climate year-round. Hawaii’s location in the central Pacific Ocean ensures it has a tropical climate moderated by oceanic influences. This results in balmy, warm temperatures throughout the year but rarely sees extremes.

The 100-Degree Record-Setting Days

For Alaska, the record was set on June 27, 1915, in Fort Yukon. This town lies just inside the Arctic Circle—a region more associated with sub-zero temperatures than scorching heat. A combination of clear skies, long daylight hours (thanks to its position close to the Arctic Circle), and specific atmospheric conditions allowed for this record-setting temperature.

Hawaii, on the other hand, saw its record 100°F on April 27, 1931, in Pahala, a small town on the Big Island. This record is especially remarkable considering Hawaii’s consistent climate. The island’s oceanic surroundings and regular trade winds generally keep extreme temperatures at bay.

Why Do Hawaii and Alaska Have the Same Record High Temperature?

The Extremes of Latitude: Alaska’s high temperature record may seem surprising, but it’s important to remember that during the summer months, areas close to the Arctic Circle experience almost continuous daylight. This phenomenon, known as the Midnight Sun, means that the ground and the air can continue warming throughout the day and night.

Oceanic Moderation in Hawaii: The vast Pacific Ocean surrounding the Hawaiian Islands plays a crucial role in keeping the state’s temperatures relatively consistent. Water has a high heat capacity, meaning it can absorb and release heat slowly. As a result, areas close to large bodies of water—like Hawaii—tend to have milder, more stable temperatures. While Hawaii does experience warmth, it’s the consistency rather than the extremes that characterizes its climate.

Microclimates and Atmospheric Anomalies: Both states have diverse topographies and climates within their borders. In Alaska, interior regions, shielded from the marine influences, can see more significant temperature fluctuations. Hawaii has elevation changes, leading to cooler areas atop Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa compared to coastal regions. Specific atmospheric conditions, such as high-pressure systems, can lead to unusually high temperatures, even in areas where they might seem out of place.

The Bigger Picture

While this shared record is an interesting climatic quirk, it also underscores the complexity of our planet’s weather and climate systems. Two states, with seemingly opposite general climates, can have moments of convergence due to a multitude of factors.

Moreover, such records emphasize the importance of understanding local weather patterns and anomalies when considering broader climate trends. Just as one cold day doesn’t negate global warming, a single hot day in Alaska doesn’t define its typical climate. It’s the broader patterns and consistent data over time that give us insight into our changing world.

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Source: “The Hottest Temperatures Recorded In All 50 States” — Weather Underground

WTF Fun Fact 13387 – Earth’s Core May Be Hotter Than The Sun

Scientists believe that the Earth’s core, consisting primarily of iron and nickel, may be hotter than the surface of the sun, with temperatures reaching up to 5,500 degrees Celsius (9,932 degrees Fahrenheit).

Why do scientists think the Earth’s core is hotter than the sun’s surface?

The Earth’s core, located approximately 2,900 kilometers (1,800 miles) beneath the Earth’s surface, remains an elusive and challenging realm for direct exploration. Despite the inability to physically access the core, scientists have employed a combination of sophisticated techniques, including theoretical modeling and seismic studies, to gain insights into its temperature.

Scientists use the analysis of seismic waves generated by earthquakes to study the temperature of the planet’s core. By studying the behavior of these waves as they travel through different layers of the Earth, scientists can infer valuable information about the planet’s internal structure and temperature distribution.

Through seismic studies, scientists have determined that the core’s temperature increases significantly as one ventures deeper into the Earth. The most scorching temperatures are found at the boundary between the outer and inner core, approximately 3,200 miles beneath the Earth’s surface. Here, researchers estimate that the temperature reaches nearly 6,000 degrees Celsius (10,800 degrees Fahrenheit). So, if that’s the case, then the earth’s core is hotter than the sun.

Where’d that heat come from?

Interestingly, the heat in the Earth’s core does not come from the sun. The core’s exceptional temperatures are sustained by two primary heat sources. The first source of heat originates from the residual energy trapped within the Earth since its formation around 4.5 billion years ago. During the Earth’s early stages, countless collisions and mergers between rock fragments produced an immense amount of heat, some of which remains within the core to this day.

The second source of heat within the core arises from the radioactive decay of isotopes present throughout the Earth. Radioactive elements such as potassium-40, thorium-232, uranium-235, and uranium-238 release energy as they undergo decay, contributing to the overall heat budget of the core.

While the core’s temperatures may exceed those of the sun’s surface, it is important to note that the conditions in the core are drastically different. The core’s high pressures prevent its iron-nickel composition from vaporizing into gas despite the extreme temperatures.

This unique combination of heat and pressure creates an environment that sustains the core in a liquid or solid state.

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Source: “How has Earth’s core stayed as hot as the sun’s surface for billions of years?” —

WTF Fun Facts 12719 – When Weather Kills

Heat waves (typically regarded as 3 or more days in a row with a temperature above 90 degrees) are a time to take special care and to check in on the elderly and those with young children who may need help. While the heat makes many of us miserable, it’s also a killer. And because it gets misdiagnosed and is considered a fact of life in the summer by many, we easily forget what a calamity it can be for some (even for those with A/C who experience increasingly frequent power outages!).

Technically, all heat-related deaths are preventable. That’s why it’s so sad that around 658 Americans are killed by extreme heat each year. And the numbers are likely much higher since heat-related deaths aren’t mandatory to report to public health agencies.

Heat deaths as well as deaths in which heat was a contributing factor are easy to misdiagnose or mislabel. Looking back at deadly heat waves in Chicago and Paris, for example, show that far more deaths were related to heat than were recorded at the time.

Here are some sobering facts from the Environmental Protection Agency:

  • Between 1979 and 2018, the death rate as a direct result of exposure to heat (the underlying cause of death) generally hovered between 0.5 and 2 deaths per million people…
  • A total of more than 11,000 Americans have died from heat-related causes since 1979, according to death certificates.
  • In some years, recording has included heat as a contributing factor, and in other years it has not – but in the years where only direct heat deaths “counted,” the estimates may be twice as high as the records show.
  • There was a peak in heat-related deaths in 2006, one of the hottest years on record in the contiguous 48 states.

And while many kids do get special attention during traumatic weather events, it’s the elderly who are often forgotten. However:

  • Since 1999, people aged 65+ have been several times more likely to die from heat-related cardiovascular disease than the general population, while non-Hispanic Blacks generally have had higher-than-average rates.
  • The interaction of heat and cardiovascular disease caused about one-fourth of the heat-related deaths recorded since 1999.

According to the CDC, those most likely to suffer from heat-related illness and death include:

  • infants and children up to 4 years old
  • People 65 years of age and older
  • People who are overweight
  • People who have existing medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease
  • People who are socially isolated
  • Those who take medications that impair the body’s ability to regulate its temperature or that inhibit perspiration
  • People who are poor

Behaviors that put people are at risk for serious illness or death during heat waves include:

  • Those who engage in strenuous exercise during high heat
  • People who drink alcoholic beverages during high heat

Heat is also worse in urban areas where buildings, parking lots, sidewalks, and roads absorb heat and create even hotter “heat islands” that aren’t recorded in the local weather estimates.

From 1999 to 2010, 8,081 heat-related deaths were reported in the United States. In 72% of these cases, excessive heat was actually the underlying cause of death (often in those who already had a cardiovascular condition). Only in 28% of cases was it a contributing factor.

So, what can you do to make sure everyone handles the heat?

  • Check on people at risk, such as the elderly, disabled, or homebound.
  • Never leave any living creature locked in a car. (Sometimes we don’t even know how bad the heat is getting to us until it’s too late.)
  • Limit sun exposure during midday hours, even at places like beaches.
  • Avoid sunburn and treat it right away if it happens by applying aloe vera and hot compresses – never pop blisters.
  • Drink plenty of nonalcoholic fluids (and avoid caffeine).
  • Replace the body’s salts and minerals by eating fruits and vegetables (NOT salty snacks – because while your body needs salt, they have too much for your kidneys to handle).
  • Dress in cool, loose clothing (this also helps avoid heat rash).
  • Shade your (and especially children’s) heads and faces from the sun – use an umbrella if that’s all you have.
  • Provide plenty of fresh water for pets and put it in the shade.
  • Create circulation with fans if you don’t have a/c – and make there’s a fan pointing outward to push hot air out of the room.
  • Put a bowl of cold water (with ice, if possible) in front of a fan for an extra cooling effect.
  • Try closing all doors, windows, and curtains right before the sun comes up to keep cooler evening air inside longer.
  • Cover your feet and shoulders with wet towels and washcloths.
  • Create a space in the basement, if you have one, since it’s often cooler down there.
  • Turn off electronics that give off heat when plugged in (such as computers and lamps with incandescent light bulbs).
  • Try not to use the stove or oven.
  • If there’s no relief in your home, visit public buildings (such as shopping malls or libraries) with air conditioning.
  • Avoid large, protein-rich meals to keep the body from creating its own metabolic heat.
  • Lay down in a shaded area and sip water if you get clammy, pale, lightheaded, nauseous, or develop a headache – this can turn into an emergency quickly, so don’t hide away in a hot room.
  • Keep some Gatorade or Pedialyte (or any oral hydration with essential minerals and potassium) to stave off dehydration.
  • Call 911 if you experience: cramps, swelling, fainting, a temperature over 100 degrees and rising, confusion, a rapid pulse, severe nausea, a severe headache, and skin that’s warm and dry – it could be heat stroke, which can lead to coma and death.

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Sources: “Heat-Related Illness” — CDC
“Climate Change indicators” — EPA
“11 Facts About Heat Waves” —