A bird's-eye view
The recent tornado outbreak in Texas killed at least six people. This image from NOAA shows the storm cloud that developed over Granbury on the afternoon of the15th May:The Granbury storm [NOAA]
You can see the shadows being cast by a cumulonimbus extending well over 10,000 metres into the atmosphere.
Here's an interesting image: It is a NASA shot of the hottest place on Earth:
The Lut Desert [Picture: NASA]
I used to do a weather quiz when I was at the BBC, during special events, such as the Bath & West Show or Harbour Festival. One question I often asked was, "Where is the hottest place on Earth?" That one used to keep people going for ages, shouting out the answers.
Most plumped for the Sahara or Death Valley, Colorado, or somewhere in the Middle East.
The correct answer, until recently, was El Aziza in Libya which recorded a temperature of 58.0C (136F) back in 1922.
But temperature recording stations are relatively few and far between, particularly in remote desert regions. Realistically, much of the world's land mass, apart from North America and Europe is sadly lacking in data.
In recent years, data from satellites has become increasingly sensitive and radiation emitted by hot surfaces allows scientists to calculate values for the entire globe.
As a result, there is now a stand out candidate for the title of 'the hottest place on Earth'.
Drum roll, please!
The winner is.....the Lut Desert!
The Lut Desert is in central eastern Iran. Here, on one day in 2005, a temperature of 70.7C (159F) was recorded by satellite sensing.
What makes the Lut special is that much of it is made up of salt pans but the Gandom Beryan, a 480 square kilometre plateau - is made up of dark, basaltic gravel which readily absorbs heat.
Of course the region receives lots of sunshine and it likes in an arid climatic zone.
The Lut's crown may not be permanent. Changes in land use, erosion and deforestation mean that, over time, other desert regions may be able to stake their claim.
For now, at least, the Lut is king of the radiating heap.