|Floor elevation||−86 m (−282 ft)|
|Area||3,000 square miles (7,800 km2)|
Death Valley is a desert valley located in Eastern California, in the northern Mojave Desert bordering the Great Basin Desert. It is one of the hottest places in the world along with deserts in the Middle East.
Eastern California is a region defined as either the strip to the east of the crest of the Sierra Nevada or as the easternmost counties of California in the United States.
The Mojave Desert is an arid rain-shadow desert and the driest desert in North America. It is in the Southwestern United States, primarily within southeastern California and southern Nevada, and it occupies 47,877 sq mi (124,000 km2). Very small areas also extend into Utah and Arizona. Its boundaries are generally noted by the presence of Joshua trees, which are native only to the Mojave Desert and are considered an indicator species, and it is believed to support an additional 1,750 to 2,000 species of plants. The central part of the desert is sparsely populated, while its peripheries support large communities such as Las Vegas, Barstow, Lancaster, Palmdale, Victorville, and St. George.
The Great Basin Desert is part of the Great Basin between the Sierra Nevada and the Wasatch Range. The desert is a geographical region that largely overlaps the Great Basin shrub steppe defined by the World Wildlife Fund, and the Central Basin and Range ecoregion defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and United States Geological Survey. It is a temperate desert with hot, dry summers and snowy winters. The desert spans a large part of the state of Nevada, and extends into western Utah, eastern California, and Idaho. The desert is one of the four biologically defined deserts in North America, in addition to the Mojave, Sonoran, and Chihuahuan Deserts.
Death Valley's Badwater Basin is the point of the lowest elevation in North America, at 282 feet (86 m) below sea level. This point is 84.6 miles (136.2 km) east-southeast of Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States, with an elevation of 14,505 feet (4,421 m). On the afternoon of July 10, 1913, the United States Weather Bureau recorded a high temperature of 134 °F (56.7 °C) at Furnace Creek in Death Valley. This temperature stands as the highest ambient air temperature ever recorded at the surface of the Earth.
Badwater Basin is an endorheic basin in Death Valley National Park, Death Valley, Inyo County, California, noted as the lowest point in North America, with a depth of 282 ft (86 m) below sea level. Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous 48 United States, is only 84.6 miles (136 km) to the northwest.
Mount Whitney is the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States and the Sierra Nevada, with an elevation of 14,505 feet (4,421 m). It is located in East–Central California, on the boundary between California's Inyo and Tulare counties, 84.6 miles (136.2 km) west-northwest of the lowest point in North America at Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park at 282 ft (86 m) below sea level. The west slope of the mountain is in Sequoia National Park and the summit is the southern terminus of the John Muir Trail which runs 211.9 mi (341.0 km) from Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley. The east slope is in the Inyo National Forest in Inyo County.
The contiguous United States or officially the conterminous United States consists of the 48 adjoining U.S. states on the continent of North America. The terms exclude the non-contiguous states of Alaska and Hawaii, and all other off-shore insular areas. These differ from the related term continental United States which includes Alaska but excludes Hawaii and insular territories.
Located near the border of California and Nevada, in the Great Basin, east of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Death Valley constitutes much of Death Valley National Park and is the principal feature of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts Biosphere Reserve. It is located mostly in Inyo County, California. It runs from north to south between the Amargosa Range on the east and the Panamint Range on the west; the Grapevine Mountains and the Owlshead Mountains form its northern and southern boundaries, respectively. 3,000 sq mi (7,800 km2). The highest point in Death Valley itself is Telescope Peak in the Panamint Range, which has an elevation of 11,043 feet (3,366 m).It has an area of about
The Sierra Nevada is a mountain range in the Western United States, between the Central Valley of California and the Great Basin. The vast majority of the range lies in the state of California, although the Carson Range spur lies primarily in Nevada. The Sierra Nevada is part of the American Cordillera, a chain of mountain ranges that consists of an almost continuous sequence of such ranges that form the western "backbone" of North America, Central America, South America and Antarctica.
Death Valley National Park is an American national park that straddles the California—Nevada border, east of the Sierra Nevada. The park boundaries include Death Valley, the northern section of Panamint Valley, the southern section of Eureka Valley, and most of Saline Valley. The park occupies an interface zone between the arid Great Basin and Mojave deserts, protecting the northwest corner of the Mojave Desert and its diverse environment of salt-flats, sand dunes, badlands, valleys, canyons, and mountains. Death Valley is the largest national park in the lower 48 states, and the hottest, driest and lowest of all the national parks in the United States. The second-lowest point in the Western Hemisphere is in Badwater Basin, which is 282 feet (86 m) below sea level. Approximately 91% of the park is a designated wilderness area. The park is home to many species of plants and animals that have adapted to this harsh desert environment. Some examples include creosote bush, bighorn sheep, coyote, and the Death Valley pupfish, a survivor from much wetter times. UNESCO included Death Valley as the principal feature of its Mojave and Colorado Deserts Biosphere Reserve in 1984.
The Mojave and Colorado Deserts Biosphere Reserve is a biosphere reserve designated by UNESCO in 1984 to promote the ecological conservation of a cluster of areas in the Mojave and Colorado deserts of California. A principal feature is Death Valley. The four management units encompassed by the reserve upon its creation were:
Death Valley is an example of a graben, or a downdropped block of land between two mountain ranges.It lies at the southern end of a geological trough known as Walker Lane, which runs north to Oregon. The valley is bisected by a right lateral strike slip fault system, represented by the Death Valley Fault and the Furnace Creek Fault. The eastern end of the left lateral Garlock Fault intersects the Death Valley Fault. Furnace Creek and the Amargosa River flow through the valley but eventually disappear into the sands of the valley floor.
In geology, a graben is a depressed block of the crust of a planet bordered by parallel faults.
In geology, a trough is a linear structural depression that extends laterally over a distance. Although it is less steep than a trench, a trough can be a narrow basin or a geologic rift. These features often form at the rim of tectonic plates. There are various oceanic troughs, troughs found under oceans; examples include:
The Walker Lane is a geologic trough roughly aligned with the California/Nevada border southward to where Death Valley intersects the Garlock Fault, a major left lateral, or sinistral, strike-slip fault. The north-northwest end of the Walker Lane is between Pyramid Lake in Nevada and California's Lassen Peak where the Honey Lake Fault Zone, the Warm Springs Valley Fault, and the Pyramid Lake Fault Zone meet the transverse tectonic zone forming the southern boundary of the Modoc Plateau and Columbia Plateau provinces. The Walker Lane takes up 15 to 25 percent of the boundary motion between the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate, the other 75 percent being taken up by the San Andreas Fault system to the west. The Walker Lane may represent an incipient major transform fault zone which could replace the San Andreas as the plate boundary in the future.
Death Valley also contains salt pans. According to current geological consensus, at various times during the middle of the Pleistocene era, which ended roughly 10,000–12,000 years ago, an inland lake referred to as Lake Manly formed in Death Valley. Lake Manly was nearly 100 miles (160 km) long and 600 feet (180 m) deep, the end-basin in a chain of lakes that began with Mono Lake in the north and continued through multiple basins down the Owens River Valley through Searles and China Lakes and the Panamint Valley to the immediate west.
Natural salt pans or salt flats are flat expanses of ground covered with salt and other minerals, usually shining white under the sun. They are found in deserts, and are natural formations.
The Pleistocene is the geological epoch which lasted from about 2,588,000 to 11,700 years ago, spanning the world's most recent period of repeated glaciations. The end of the Pleistocene corresponds with the end of the last glacial period and also with the end of the Paleolithic age used in archaeology.
Lake Manly was a pluvial lake in Death Valley, California, covering much of Death Valley with a surface area of 1,600 square kilometres (620 sq mi) during the so-called "Blackwelder stand". Water levels varied through its history, and the chronology is further complicated by active tectonic processes that have modified the elevations of the various shorelines of Lake Manly; during the Blackwelder stage they reached 47–90 metres (154–295 ft) above sea level. The lake received water mainly from the Amargosa River and at various points from the Mojave River and Owens River. The lake and its substantial catchment favoured the spread of a number of aquatic species, including some lizards, pupfish and springsnails. The lake probably supported a substantial ecosystem, and a number of diatoms developed there.
As the area turned to desert, the water evaporated, leaving the abundance of evaporitic salts such as common sodium salts and borax, which were later exploited during the modern history of the region, primarily 1883 to 1907.
Borax, also known as sodium borate, sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate, is an important boron compound, a mineral, and a salt of boric acid. Powdered borax is white, consisting of soft colorless crystals that dissolve in water. A number of closely related minerals or chemical compounds that differ in their crystal water content are referred to as borax, but the word is usually used to refer to the octahydrate. Commercially sold borax is partially dehydrated.
Death Valley has a subtropical, hot desert climate (Köppen: BWh), with long, extremely hot summers and short, mild winters, as well as little rainfall.
Death Valley is extremely dry because it sits in the rain shadow of four major mountain ranges (including the Sierra Nevada and Panamint Range). Moisture moving inland from the Pacific Ocean must pass eastward over multiple mountains to reach Death Valley; as air masses are forced upwards by each range, the air cools and moisture condenses to fall as rain or snow on the western slopes. When the air masses ultimately reach Death Valley, most of the moisture has already been "squeezed out" and there is little left to fall as precipitation.
The extreme heat of Death Valley is attributable to a confluence of geographic and topographic factors. Scientists have identified a number of key contributorsto Death Valley's famously hot conditions:
Severe heat and dryness contribute to perpetual drought-like conditions in Death Valley and prevent much cloud formation from passing through the confines of the valley, where precipitation is often in the form of a virga.
The depth and shape of Death Valley strongly influence its climate. The valley is a long, narrow basin that reaches down to below sea level, yet is walled by high, steep mountain ranges. The clear, dry air and sparse plant cover allow sunlight to heat the desert surface. Summer nights provide little relief, as overnight lows may only dip into the 82 to 98 °F (28 to 37 °C) range. Moving masses of super-heated air blow through the valley creating extremely high temperatures.
The hottest air temperature ever recorded in Death Valley was 134 °F (56.7 °C) on July 10, 1913, at Greenland Ranch (now Furnace Creek), which is the highest atmospheric temperature ever recorded on earth. A report of a temperature of 58 °C (136.4 °F) recorded in Libya in 1922 was later determined to be inaccurate. During the heat wave that peaked with that record, five consecutive days reached 129 °F (54 °C) or above. Some meteorologists dispute the accuracy of the 1913 temperature measurement.
The highest surface temperature ever recorded in Death Valley was 201.0 °F (93.9 °C) on July 15, 1972, at Furnace Creek, which is the highest ground surface temperature ever recorded on earth, as well as the only recorded surface temperature of above 200 °F (93.3 °C).
The greatest number of consecutive days with a maximum temperature of 100 °F (38 °C) or above was 154 days in the summer of 2001. The summer of 1996 had 40 days over 120 °F (49 °C), and 105 days over 110 °F (43 °C). The summer of 1917 had 52 days where the temperature reached 120 °F (49 °C) or above with 43 of them consecutive. Four major mountain ranges lie between Death Valley and the ocean, each one adding to an increasingly drier rain shadow effect, and in 1929, 1953, and 1989, no rain was recorded for the whole year. The period from 1931 to 1934 was the driest stretch on record with only 0.64 inches (16 mm) of rain over a 40-month period. On June 30, 2013, during the 2013 extreme heat wave, the mercury reached 129 °F (54 °C) at Furnace Creek station, which is the all-time highest air temperature recorded for June.
The mean annual temperature for Death Valley (Furnace Creek Weather Station) is 77.2 °F (25.1 °C) with an average high of 65.2 °F (18 °C) in December, 66.9 °F (19 °C) in January, and 116.5 °F (47 °C) in July. From 1934 to 1961, the weather station at Cow Creek recorded a mean annual temperature of 77.2 °F (25.1 °C).
The longest number of consecutive days where temperatures reached 90 °F (32 °C) or more was 205 from April to October 1992. On average, 192 days per year in Death Valley have temperatures that reach 90 °F or more. Before being moved to Furnace Creek, the weather station at Greenland Ranch averaged 194.4 days annually where temperatures reached 90 °F or more.
The lowest temperature recorded at Greenland Ranch was 15 °F (−9 °C) in January 1913.
The period from July 17–19, 1959, was the longest string of consecutive days where nighttime low temperatures did not drop below 100 °F (38 °C). The highest overnight or low temperature recorded in Death Valley is 110 °F (43 °C), recorded on July 5, 1918, and the current world record for highest overnight low. As recently as July 12, 2012, the low temperature at Death Valley dropped to just 107 °F (42 °C) after a high of 128 °F (53 °C) on the previous day. The only other location which matches Death Valley's overnight low temperature of 107 °F in recent years is Khasab Airport in Oman, which also recorded a low of 107 °F (42 °C) on June 27, 2012, and later one of 111.6 °F (44.2 °C) on June 21, 2017. Also on July 12, 2012, the mean 24-hour temperature recorded at Death Valley was 117.5 °F (47.5 °C), which makes it the world's warmest 24-hour temperature on record.
The average annual precipitation in Death Valley is 2.36 inches (60 mm), while the Greenland Ranch station averaged 1.58 in (40 mm). The wettest month on record is January 1995, when 2.59 inches (66 mm) fell on Death Valley. The wettest period on record was mid-2004 to mid-2005, in which nearly 6 inches (150 mm) of rain fell in total, leading to ephemeral lakes in the valley and the region and tremendous wildflower blooms. Snow with accumulation has only been recorded in January 1922, while scattered flakes have been recorded on other occasions.
|Climate data for Death Valley (Furnace Creek Station)|
|Record high °F (°C)||87|
|Mean maximum °F (°C)||77.0|
|Average high °F (°C)||66.9|
|Daily mean °F (°C)||53.4|
|Average low °F (°C)||40.0|
|Mean minimum °F (°C)||28.4|
|Record low °F (°C)||15|
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||0.39|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||217||226||279||330||372||390||403||372||330||310||210||186||3,625|
|Source #1: NOAA 1981–2010 US Climate Normals|
|Source #2: weather2travel|
|Climate data for Death Valley (Cow Creek Station)|
|Record high °F (°C)||84|
|Average high °F (°C)||64.4|
|Daily mean °F (°C)||52.5|
|Average low °F (°C)||40.6|
|Record low °F (°C)||19|
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||0.24|
|Source: Western Regional Climate Center|
In 2005, Death Valley received four times its average annual rainfall of 1.5 inches (38 mm). As it has done before for hundreds of years, the lowest spot in the valley filled with a wide, shallow lake, but the extreme heat and aridity immediately began evaporating the ephemeral lake.
The pair of images (seen at right) from NASA's Landsat 5 satellite documents the short history of Death Valley's Lake Badwater: formed in February 2005 (top) and evaporated by February 2007 (bottom). In 2005, a big pool of greenish water stretched most of the way across the valley floor. By May 2005 the valley floor had resumed its more familiar role as Badwater Basin, a salt-coated salt flats. In time, this freshly dissolved and recrystallized salt will darken.
The western margin of Death Valley is traced by alluvial fans. During flash floods, rainfall from the steep mountains to the west pours through narrow canyons, picking up everything from fine clay to large rocks. When these torrents reach the mouths of the canyons, they widen and slow, branching out into distributary channels. The paler the fans, the younger they are.
In spite of the overwhelming heat and sparse rainfall, Death Valley exhibits considerable biodiversity. Wildflowers, watered by snowmelt, carpet the desert floor each spring, continuing into June.Bighorn sheep, red-tailed hawks, and wild burros may be seen. Death Valley has over 600 springs and ponds. Salt Creek, a mile-long shallow depression in the center of the valley, supports pupfish. These isolated pupfish populations are remnants of the wetter Pleistocene climate.
Darwin Falls, on the western edge of Death Valley Monument, falls 100 feet (30 m) into a large pond surrounded by willows and cottonwood trees. Over 80 species of birds have been spotted around the pond.
Death Valley is home to the Timbisha tribe of Native Americans, formerly known as the Panamint Shoshone, who have inhabited the valley for at least the past millennium. The Timbisha name for the valley, tümpisa, means "rock paint" and refers to the red ochre paint that can be made from a type of clay found in the valley. Some families still live in the valley at Furnace Creek. Another village was in Grapevine Canyon near the present site of Scotty's Castle. It was called in the Timbisha language maahunu, whose meaning is uncertain, although it is known that hunu means "canyon".
The valley received its English name in 1849 during the California Gold Rush. It was called Death Valley by prospectorsand others who sought to cross the valley on their way to the gold fields, after 13 pioneers perished from one early expedition of wagon trains. During the 1850s, gold and silver were extracted in the valley. In the 1880s, borax was discovered and extracted by mule-drawn wagons.
Death Valley National Monument was proclaimed on February 11, 1933, by President Herbert Hoover, placing the area under federal protection. In 1994, the monument was redesignated as Death Valley National Park, as well as being substantially expanded to include Saline and Eureka Valleys.
A number of movies have been filmed in Death Valley, such as the following:
A microclimate is a local set of atmospheric conditions that differ from those in the surrounding areas, often with a slight difference but sometimes with a substantial one. The term may refer to areas as small as a few square meters or square feet or as large as many square kilometers or square miles. Because climate is statistical, which implies spatial and temporal variation of the mean values of the describing parameters, within a region there can occur and persist over time sets of statistically distinct conditions, that is, microclimates. Microclimates can be found in most places.
Inyo County is a county in the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 census, the population was 18,546. The county seat is Independence.
Furnace Creek is a census-designated place (CDP) in Inyo County, California. The population was 24 at the 2010 census, down from 31 at the 2000 census. The elevation of the village is 190 feet (58 m) below sea level. Furnace Creek holds the record for the highest reliably recorded air temperature on Earth at 134 °F (56.7 °C) on July 10, 1913, as well as the highest recorded natural ground surface temperature on Earth at 201 °F (93.9 °C) on July 15, 1972.
The Panamint Range is a short rugged fault-block mountain range in the northern Mojave Desert, within Death Valley National Park in Inyo County, eastern California. Dr. Darwin French is credited as applying the term Panamint in 1860 during his search for the fabled Gunsight Lode. The orographic identity has been liberally applied for decades to include other ranges.
The exposed geology of the Death Valley area presents a diverse and complex set of at least 23 formations of sedimentary units, two major gaps in the geologic record called unconformities, and at least one distinct set of related formations geologists call a group. The oldest rocks in the area that now includes Death Valley National Park are extensively metamorphosed by intense heat and pressure and are at least 1700 million years old. These rocks were intruded by a mass of granite 1400 Ma and later uplifted and exposed to nearly 500 million years of erosion.
Places of interest in the Death Valley area are mostly located within Death Valley National Park in eastern California.
The climate of Salt Lake City varies widely. Lying in the Salt Lake Valley, the city is surrounded by mountains and the Great Salt Lake.
The Timbisha are a Native American tribe federally recognized as the Death Valley Timbisha Shoshone Band of California. They are known as the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe and are located in south central California, near the Nevada border. As of the 2010 Census the population of the Village was 124. The older members still speak the ancestral language, also called Timbisha.
The Devil's Golf Course is a large salt pan on the floor of Death Valley, located in the Mojave Desert within Death Valley National Park. The park is in eastern California.
The Oasis at Death Valley, formerly called Furnace Creek Inn and Ranch Resort, is a luxury resort in Furnace Creek, on private land within the boundaries of California's Death Valley National Park. It is owned and operated by Xanterra Parks and Resorts.
The Whitney Classic is an 136-mile-long (219 km) endurance mountain bike race that is held in late September or October every year. The ride runs from the Badwater Basin in Death Valley to Whitney Portal. Badwater, at 279 feet (85 m) below sea level, is the lowest place in the North America and Whitney Portal at 8,360 feet (2,550 m) is the trailhead that leads to Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the contiguous United States with an elevation of 14,505 feet (4,421 m).
The climate of California varies widely, from hot desert to polar, depending on latitude, elevation, and proximity to the coast. California's coastal regions, the Sierra Nevada foothills, and much of the Central Valley have a Mediterranean climate, with warmer, drier weather in summer and cooler, wetter weather in winter. The influence of the ocean generally moderates temperature extremes, creating warmer winters and substantially cooler summers in coastal areas.
Dante's View is a viewpoint terrace at 1,669 m (5,476 ft) height, on the north side of Coffin Peak, along the crest of the Black Mountains, overlooking Death Valley. Dante's View is about 25 km (16 mi) south of Furnace Creek in Death Valley National Park.
The climate of the United States varies due to differences in latitude, and a range of geographic features, including mountains and deserts. Generally, on the mainland, the climate of the U.S. becomes warmer the further south one travels, and drier the further west, until one reaches the West Coast.
Arizona is a landlocked state situated in the southwestern region of the United States of America. It has a vast and diverse geography famous for its deep canyons, high- and low-elevation deserts, numerous natural rock formations, and volcanic mountain ranges. Arizona shares land borders with Utah to the north, the Mexican state of Sonora to the south, New Mexico to the east, and Nevada to the northwest, as well as water borders with California and the Mexican state of Baja California to the southwest along the Colorado River. Arizona is also one of the Four Corners states and is diagonally adjacent to Colorado.
Aguereberry Point is a promontory and tourist viewpoint in the Panamint Range, within Death Valley National Park in Inyo County, eastern California.
The highest temperature recorded on Earth has been measured in three different major ways: air, ground, and through satellite. The former of the three is used as the standard measurement, and is noted by the World Meteorological Organization among others for the official record. How the record is taken though has been subject to controversy regarding various factors such as environmental conditions. For ninety years a former record that was measured in Libya had been in place until it was disproven in 2012. This finding has since raised questions about the legitimacy of the current record which was measured in Death Valley. The WMO has since stated that they would be willing to open an investigation into the matter as all "available evidence" points to its accuracy. While there have been higher reports through air readings, none of these have ever been verified. The other two measurements of ground and satellite have also generated higher readings, but are less reliable and also unverified.
Consequently, the WMO assessment is that the official highest recorded surface temperature of 56.7°C (134°F) was measured on 10 July 1913 at Greenland Ranch (Death Valley) CA
Entered coordinates for Badwater 36-15-01-N, 116-49-33-W; and Mount Whitney 36-34-43-N, 118-17-31-W
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