NASA Finds a New Coldest Place on Earth

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 10 2013 9:53 AM

NASA Finds a New Coldest Place on Earth

1386686133

Photo courtesy of NASA

A little consolation for those of us who bundled up in every coat we own this morning in a bid to stay warm: It could be worse. Much, much worse.

NASA announced this week that it has found a new coldest place on Earth (and much to my surprise it's not Iowa City). After analyzing more than three decades worth of satellite data, researchers found that temperatures plummeted to record lows dozens of times "in clusters of pockets near a high ridge between Dome Argus and Dome Fuji, two summits on the ice sheet known as the East Antarctic Plateau." The new all-time record low recorded was an almost unimaginable minus-135.8 degrees Fahrenheit—for the metric lovers among us, that's minus-93.2 degrees Celsius—set on Aug. 10, 2010. (The same area came close to breaking that record again on July 31 of this year, when the temperature dropped to minus-135.3 degrees.)

Advertisement

As Ted Scambos, a scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, explained yesterday, those temperatures are about 50 degrees below anything you'd see in Alaska or Siberia, and closer to what "you'd see on Mars on a nice summer day in the poles."

The previous frosty record-holder on the books was the minus-128.6 degrees Fahrenheit set in 1983 at the Russian Vostok Research Station in East Antarctica. For comparison, the coldest permanently inhabited place on Earth is in northeastern Siberia, where two towns, Verkhoyansk and Oimekon, dropped to minus-90 in 1892 and 1933, respectively. More on today's announcement over at the NASA website.

***Follow @JoshVoorhees and the rest of the @slatest team on Twitter.***

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

TODAY IN SLATE

History

Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show

The XX Factor

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada

Now, journalists can't even say her name.

Doublex

Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

  News & Politics
Damned Spot
Sept. 30 2014 9:00 AM Now Stare. Don’t Stop. The perfect political wife’s loving gaze in campaign ads.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 29 2014 7:01 PM We May Never Know If Larry Ellison Flew a Fighter Jet Under the Golden Gate Bridge
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 30 2014 6:00 AM Drive-By Bounty Prudie advises a woman whose boyfriend demands she flash truckers on the highway.
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 29 2014 11:43 PM Lena Dunham, the Book More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal, but … What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 29 2014 9:06 PM Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice Looks Like a Comic Masterpiece
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:36 AM Almost Humane What sci-fi can teach us about our treatment of prisoners of war.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 30 2014 7:30 AM What Lurks Beneath The Methane Lakes of Titan?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.