Reaching a new low
Satellites find record negative temperatures in East Antarctica
Posted December 13, 2013
Scientists recently announced that they had found the lowest temperatures on Earth at a desolate and remote ice plateau in East Antarctica, trumping a record set in 1983.
Ted Scambos , lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) , and his team found temperatures from minus 92 to minus 94 degrees Celsius (minus 134 to minus 137 degrees Fahrenheit) in a 1,000-kilometer-long swath on the highest section of the East Antarctic ice divide. The National Science Foundation partly funds the NSIDC.
The measurements were made between 2003 and 2013 by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor on board NASA’s Aqua satellite and during the 2013 Southern Hemisphere winter by Landsat 8 , a new satellite launched earlier this year by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey.
“I’ve never been in conditions that cold and I hope I never am,” Scambos said when the data were released at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco this week. “I am told that every breath is painful and you have to be extremely careful not to freeze part of your throat or lungs when inhaling.”
The record temperatures are several degrees colder than the previous record of minus 89.2C (minus 128.6F) measured on July 21, 1983 at the Vostok Research Station in East Antarctica. The coldest temperature recorded at the U.S. Antarctic Program’s South Pole Station was minus 117F (minus 82.8C) on June 23, 1982.
For more about the record-breaking temperatures in Antarctica and related research, see the press release from NSIDC.