December 10, 2013
Antarctic High Ridge Gets Distinction As Coldest Place On Earth
[ Watch the Video: Coldest Place On Earth Is The East Antarctic Plateau ]
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe OnlineIf you think it’s cold where you live, consider this: NASA satellites have just discovered the chilliest place on Earth, where temperatures can plummet to minus 133.6 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 92 degrees Celsius).
This “glad I don’t live there” location is a high ridge in Antarctica on the East Antarctic Plateau, where temperatures in several hollows can reach those cataclysmic lows during clear conditions on a winter’s night, the agency said.
The discovery was made while analyzing detailed global surface temperature developed using data from Landsat 8, a joint project of NASA and the US Geological Survey (USGS). The findings were reported Monday during the annual fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union, which is being held this week in San Francisco, California.
Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), told Seth Borenstein of the Associated Press that the new mark is “50 degrees colder than anything that has ever been seen in Alaska or Siberia… It's more like you'd see on Mars on a nice summer day in the poles.”
[ Watch the video: Coldest Place In The World ]
He added that that while he’s “confident that these pockets are the coldest places on Earth,” they will not receive official recognition from the Guinness World Records because they were obtained using satellite data, not with thermometers at ground level.
According to NASA, the previous record low was minus 128.6 F (minus 89.2 C), set in 1983 at the Russian Vostok Research Station in East Antarctica. In addition, the coldest permanently-inhabited locations on Earth are the towns of Verkhoyansk and Oimekon in northeastern Siberia, where temperatures reached lows of 90 degrees below zero Fahrenheit (minus 67.8 C) in 1892 (Verkhoyansk) and 1933 (Oimekon).
As part of their research, Scambos and his colleagues examined over three decades worth of data from Landsat and other polar orbiting probes, according to BBC News. They found that the coldest times in Antarctica occurred at high elevations during the winter, where exceptionally dry air and a lack of pollution allow heat to be efficiently radiated out of the atmosphere.
Scambos told the British news agency that the coldest locations are “strung out like pearls” along the ridges that link the domes in the continent’s interior, and are located near but not at the crests of the ridge.
“Air chilled near the surface flows downhill because it's denser; and it flows into these very shallow topographic pockets,” he explained. “If you were standing in one of these places, you'd hardly notice you were in a topographic low – it's that gentle and that shallow. But it's enough to trap this air.”
[ Watch the video: How To Get Colder Than Anywhere Else ]