Researchers discover the coldest place on earth

Using satellite data, US researchers have tracked down the coldest place in the world. They believe that it can hardly get colder on earth. As an official cold record, the discovery is still not recognized.

Minus 98 degrees Celsius - it is so cold in the coldest place on earth. This has been found by US scientists from the University of Colorado in the Antarctic, after evaluating temperature data from satellites of the past decades.

Analyzing the data from the years 2004 to 2016, the research group led by Ted A. Scambos finally hit the new cold record in small valleys of the East Antarctic plateau, as they now report in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Surface temperatures around the minus 98 degrees were found in about 100 different places in this region. The lowest value of 98.6 degrees Celsius was measured during the polar night of July 23, 2004. Polar nights occur in the time around the winter solstice, in which the sun is not visible for several days. According to calculations, the air temperature at this point is about minus 94 degrees Celsius.

Official cold record of 89.2 degrees remains

The evaluated data come from the infrared spectrometer MODIS of the satellite Terra. This measures the surface temperature using infrared radiation, in this case directly on a layer of ice

This is not comparable to the measurement method of weather stations that measure the temperatures of the air. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) therefore does not recognize the cold record.

According to WMO, the record is 89.2 degrees Celsius and was measured in 1982 at a Russian research station in the Antarctic, about two meters above the Earth's surface.

Is there a temperature limit on earth?

The research group believes that temperatures on Earth cannot fall below minus 98 degrees.

Because the low temperature was measured at various points and was not significantly below, the researchers assume that there is something like a natural temperature limit on Earth. "The record is probably the coldest that can occur on the surface," said Scambos.

The prerequisite for achieving such extreme values is not only a cloudless polar night but also extremely dry air. Under these conditions, the heat of the surface can be more easily radiated into space.

The fact that the lowest values were discovered in deeper depressions is due to the fact that cold air is heavier than warm. Gravity keeps the cold air on the ground, which eventually collects at the lower points.

No chance of survival for humans

Humans have no chance of survival at these extreme temperatures - breathing would be impossible. Already from minus 15 degrees Celsius, the body can not warm enough inhaled air before it reaches the lungs.

In addition, severe frostbite would occur within a few seconds, especially on extremities such as nose, fingers or toes. Even at "milder" temperatures of minus 50 degrees, as they can occur, for example, in Siberia, the human body is frozen through within minutes without protection by special functional clothing.


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