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Heat seekers: In search of selfies with scorching temperature readings

California's Death Valley in the USA is experiencing an influx of visitors due to the extreme temperatures that are drying out the area west of Las Vegas

Published: Jul 29, 2023 07:20:04 AM IST
Updated: Jul 28, 2023 02:29:26 PM IST

Heat seekers: In search of selfies with scorching temperature readingsIn Death Valley, tourists flock to take pictures of the extreme temperature readings. Image: RONDA CHURCHILL / AFP

While researchers recently revealed that the heatwaves gripping Europe would not have been possible without climate disruption, California's Death Valley is experiencing an influx of rather unusual visitors. Dubbed 'heat seekers,' they are flocking to the region in search of the most extreme temperatures, and are taking souvenir snapshots to prove it.

From tornado chasers to divers seeking out the largest marine species, or extreme hikers capable of climbing the most majestic volcanoes, these epic adventures are generally personal achievements, designed to push people's limits and witness first-hand what Mother Nature has to offer.

In the context of climate disruption, scorching temperatures have led to a new, far less glorious form of hunting for natural phenomena. California's Death Valley in the USA is experiencing an influx of visitors due to the extreme temperatures that are drying out the area west of Las Vegas. American TV networks, such as NBC, are reporting on this upsurge of visitors keen to take a photo next to a counter displaying the current temperature, which is of questionable taste given the circumstances. The race is on to see who can take the picture with the highest temperature reading. These people have been dubbed 'heat seekers.'

Why are heat seekers going to Death Valley?

According to National Geographic, 'heat seekers' are on a mission to experience a new world temperature record. For it was precisely in Death Valley that the highest temperature ever was recorded. That was in 1913. At the time, the record stood at 56.7°C. Now, 110 years later, the counter is getting dangerously close to that mark once gain, showing 52° or 54° in photos taken by visitors. The reading could even reach this extreme level on occasion, as seen in a photo from the AFP news agency, although it's not an officially recorded figure. According to the Washington Post, the record has actually been broken, with a temperature of 57°C, but the meteorological service didn't record the same figure. In any case, heat-seeking behavior is being driven by the heatwave that has been gripping the United States for the past two weeks.

Also read: Set max working temperature cap in EU: Trade unions after heatwave deaths

Every year, Death Valley attracts over a million visitors, interested in its arid landscapes of stones, sand and rock formations. But, contrary to what you might imagine — especially in these scorching times — the name of this must-see destination on a road trip through the American West has nothing to do with the heat. In fact, it was European settlers who named it after an expedition to this arid zone, located at the lowest altitude in the United States, in the mid-19th century. It resulted in the loss of many lives, while the survivors experienced thirst and hunger. Legend has it that when they finally found their way out, they turned around and said "Goodbye, Death Valley."

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