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Coldest Place on Earth

December 23, 2013

Thermal satellite imaging has revealed the coldest spots on the planet.



First in frigidity. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

ColdestPlaceRecords_tmb Ted Scambos NSIDC

(Ted Scambos/National Snow and Ice Data Center)

Minus one hundred and thirty-five degrees Fahrenheit. That’s now the coldest temperature recorded on Earth, according to Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the University of Colorado’s National Snow and Ice Data Center. The measurement came from highly sensitive thermal satellite images of East Antarctica – in one of many vast, shallow valleys in the highly elevated terrain.

TED SCAMBOS (NSIDC, University of Colorado):

It looks a bit like a frozen ocean, because there are little dunes of snow that look like ocean waves scattered all over the surface, for thousands of miles.

In fact, according to the satellite data, twenty or thirty similarly remote spots this year got colder than the official air temperature record, measured near an Antarctic research station in 1983. Scambos says there may be a physical limit to how cold the Earth’s surface can possibly get, and temperatures like these may be extremely close. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.

Watch Video: The Coldest Place on Earth (NASA)