Found: Coldest Spot on Earth

'Soul-crushing' -136F recorded in Antarctica

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 10, 2013 2:40 AM CST | Updated Dec 10, 2013 5:00 AM CST

(Newser) – If you're reading this in a spot just below the crest of an ice ridge on the East Antarctic Plateau, you're probably frozen solid by now. Researchers using satellite data say the area is the coldest place on Earth, with a record low of -136 Fahrenheit (-93.2 Celsius) recorded, a "soul-crushing" low colder than the -128.6 F (-89.2 C) recorded at Antarctica's Vostok Research Station in 1983, LiveScience reports. The temperature was recorded on Aug. 10, 2010—during the Southern Hemisphere's winter.

"These very low temperatures are hard to imagine, I know," a researcher from the US National Snow and Ice Data Center tells the BBC. "The way I like to put it is that it's almost as cold below freezing as boiling water is above freezing. The new low is a good 50 degrees colder than temperatures in Alaska or Siberia, and about 30 degrees colder than the summit of Greenland." Researchers say chilled air flowing into topographic lows creates a string of super-cold spots along the Antarctic ridge—all with very similar temperatures, suggesting it is about as low as temperatures on our planet can get. Though the number could get a degree or two colder; the BBC explains -136 F is a preliminary number that could be adjusted as researchers "refine" the data pulled from the satellites' thermal sensors. (Another amazing satellite find: a new highest peak in Southeast Asia.)

Sastrugi stick out from the snow surface in this photo near Plateau Station in East Antarctica.
Sastrugi stick out from the snow surface in this photo near Plateau Station in East Antarctica.   (AP Photo/National Snow and Ice Data Center, Atsuhiro Muto)
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