AGU: Coldest Place On Earth ... Even Colder Than Scientists Thought

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According to an worldwide team of researchers who used 12 years' worth of data from several Earth-observing satellites and weather stations to reassess the same region, the temperatures prevailing in tiny valleys of Antarctic ice sheets can drop close to a whopping minus 98 degrees Celsius (or minus 148 degrees Fahrenheit), which is five degrees lower than originally thought.

The lowest air temperature ever measured by a weather station is minus 89 degrees Celsius (minus 128 degrees Fahrenheit), which was recorded at Russia's Vostok Station in July 1983. But weather stations can't measure temperatures everywhere.

It broke the earlier record which was reported in 2013.

In the new study, the team analyzed satellite data collected during the Southern Hemisphere's winter between 2004 and 2016.

The lowest temperature they observed was minus 93 degrees Celsius (minus 135 degrees Fahrenheit).

Researchers discovered tiny valleys near the top of Antarctica's ice sheet reach temperatures of almost minus 100 degrees Celsius (minus 148 degrees Fahrenheit) in the winter.

Scientists have discovered that the coldest place on Earth, unsurprisingly located somewhere in Antarctica, is even colder than previous studies suggested.

For temperatures to drop this low, scientists believed that the skies must be clear and a gentle wind would be necessary and these were the conditions five years back when the first announcement was made.

The scientists, who published their findings in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, say this temperature is probably as cold as it can get on Earth.

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The team also created instruments specifically designed to operate in these bitterly cold regions and take both snow and air temperature measurements which will help further our understanding of the Antarctic.

The scientists also developed a set of instruments created to survive and operate at the very coldest places through the winter and measure both snow and air temperatures. (1.8 to 2.7 m) deep within the ice.

JUST HOW COLD can it get on Earth's surface? Satellites sensed that within this area about 100 locations had surface temperatures fall to minus 144 degrees Fahrenheit from 2004-2016.

However, the temperature measured from satellites is the temperature of the snow surface, not the air above it.

This is because once the temperature drops below a certain point, the air cools so slowly that it can't get significantly colder before an inevitable change in weather conditions.

But how cold can it get? This gives the researchers a better idea of the surface temperature at the time in Antarctica.

Scientists took another look at data that marked the coldest place on Earth. These dips in the ice can trap super cold and dry air, according to the researchers. This very low-temperature air allows the snow in these hollows to radiate even more heat, allowing for the extraordinarily low ground temperature.

Interestingly, the researchers noticed a whole cluster of places where temperatures plunged nearly exactly to that record low over the 14-year period, even though they were located hundreds of kilometers apart. To get a more accurate reading, the researchers plan to visit some of the sites in the next few years (during summer, of course) and deploy instruments.

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