The Coldest Place in the World

Researchers used thermal infrared sensors to pinpoint the record-setting pockets on a high ridge of the East Antarctic Plateau. The record low: minus 136 F (minus 93.2 C), set on August 10, 2010.


How cold can it get on Earth? 

In 1983 a temperature of minus 128.6 F (minus 89.2 C) was recorded at the Russian Vostok Research Station in East Antarctica. However, NASA researchers had a suspicion that a high ridge on the East Antarctic Plateau was likely to be even colder than Vostok because it is at a higher elevation. 

With the launch of the Earth observation satellite Landsat 8, "we finally had a sensor capable of really investigating this area in more detail," explains Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo. 

The researchers found extremely cold temperatures along a 620-mile stretch of a high ridge between Dome Argus and Dome Fuji, two summits on the ice sheet known as the East Antarctic Plateau. Then, with the higher resolution of the Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) aboard Landsat 8, the research team pinpointed the record-setting pockets.

The record low: minus 136 F (minus 93.2 C), set on August 10, 2010.

Watch this video from the NASA Goddard's Scientific Visualization Studio:

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