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Coldest place on Earth is even colder

The uncertainty of science: Scientists have found that the coldest place on Earth in Antarctica is even colder than previously believed.

Scientists announced in 2013 they had found the lowest temperatures on Earth’s surface: Sensors on several Earth-observing satellites measured temperatures of minus 93 degrees Celsius (minus 135 degrees Fahrenheit) in several spots on the East Antarctic Plateau, a high snowy plateau in central Antarctica that encompasses the South Pole. But the researchers revised that initial study with new data and found the temperatures actually reach minus 98 degrees Celsius (minus 144 degrees Fahrenheit) during the southern polar night, mostly during July and August.

When the researchers first announced they had found the coldest temperatures on Earth five years ago, they determined that persistent clear skies and light winds are required for temperatures to dip this low. But the new study adds a twist to the story: Not only are clear skies necessary, but the air must also be extremely dry, because water vapor traps some heat in the air.

They say this is about as cold as it is possible on the Earth’s surface, as it presently exists.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

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"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • Max

    Interesting, I did notice that the coldest temperatures were near 11,000 feet. I have long maintained that heat on earth is mostly a function of air pressure. (All heat is friction) A loss of 5.4° of heat for every thousand feet would equal a 60° drop in temperature at 11,000 feet.
    The coldest temperatures in the Southern(?) shadow of the South pole ridges?
    The 24/7 sun is circling the South Pole, light never touches the coldest areas? (not relevant during the coldest six months of no sunlight)
    Perhaps… you would think with 4 months of continuous Sun light, Antarctica would be the hottest place on earth. The average temperature difference at the south pole between summer and winter is 30° (-70F to -40F)
    Have you ever heard of the temperatures in Antarctica going up over 100°F in a few hours? Although the temperature is still below freezing in most cases, The Chinook winds that cause hot dry winds on the other side of mountain ranges also occur near the Ross Ice shelf. The scientific name of the chinook is the foehn winds, named after the heating of air as the air passes over the Alps. (I did not know this !)
    Very extreme documentation of the heating of air, especially in the winter time, with the only causation is elevation and a low pressure storm pulling the air over the mountain range. (no CO2, no sunlight)
    How odd that I have never heard of this, has anyone else?

  • Noah Peal

    You think that’s cold, you should come over on Thanksgiving when my mother-in-law arrives. There’s nothing colder than a mother-in-law’s love.

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