When a weather station in Death Valley, California registered an astonishing 130 degrees Fahrenheit this week, it got meteorologists' attention.

After all, there's a possibility that this is the highest such temperature ever reliably recorded on Earth — if it's for real.

One person who received the news with keen interest was Randy Cerveny, a geographer at Arizona State University. He plays a key role in verifying extreme weather measurements, under the auspices of the United Nations agency that standardizes weather measurements around the globe.

Since 2007, Cerveny has been in charge of organizing ad hoc committees to independently verify superlative weather measurements — like the highest ocean wave, or the strongest wind gust.

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