The hottest desert on the planet. Today’s Image of the Day from the European Space Agency features the Dasht-e Lut salt desert in southeastern Iran.
The Lut Desert is often referred to as the hottest place on the planet. Satellites recorded extreme surface temperatures in the region over several different years.
The highest-ever land surface temperature was recorded in 2005 by NASA’s Aqua satellite in the Lut Desert at more than 70 degrees Celsius, or 199 degrees Fahrenheit.
Iran is climatically part of the Afro-Asian belt of deserts, which stretches from the Cape Verde islands off West Africa all the way to Mongolia. The patchy, elongated, light-colored feature in the foreground (parallel to the mountain range) is the northernmost of the Dasht dry lakes that stretch southward 300 kilometers (190 mi).
Iran’s geography consists of a plateau surrounded by mountains and divided into drainage basins. Dasht-e Lut is one of the largest of these desert basins, 480 kilometers (300 mi) long and 320 kilometers (200 mi) wide,and is considered to be one of the driest places on Earth.
The area of the desert is about 51,800 square kilometres (20,000 sq mi), the largest in Iran except for the Dasht-e Kavir. During the spring wet season, water briefly flows down from the Kerman mountains, but it soon dries up, leaving behind only rocks, sand, and salt.
The eastern part of Dasht-e Lut is a low plateau covered with salt flats. In contrast, the center has been sculpted by the wind into a series of parallel ridges and furrows, extending over 150 km (93 mi) and reaching 75 metres (246 ft) in height. This area is also riddled with ravines and sinkholes. The southeast is a vast expanse of sand, like a Saharan erg, with dunes 300 metres (980 ft) high, among the tallest in the world.
Image Credit: ESA