You Think It’s Cold Out? NASA Just Found the New Coldest Place on Earth | Smart News | Smithsonian
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The Antarctic plateau. Very, very, very cold. Now, imagine it in winter. (Photo: Stephen Hudson / Wikimedia Commons)

You Think It’s Cold Out? NASA Just Found the New Coldest Place on Earth

At -135.8 Fahrenheit, you definitely don't want to go here

smithsonian.com

There's a cold front creeping across the U.S. right now, bringing snow and ice to the lower 48. But NASA just wanted to let you know that it could be worse—much worse. Analyzing records captured by satellites over the past few decades, researchers pinpointed the coldest place on Earth, a frigid region where the dropping temperatures can put anything ever seen in America to shame. (Cold comfort, we know.)

In the high altitude valleys on Antarctica's East Antarctic Plateau, says NASA, the temperature was seen dropping to a chilly -135.8 Fahrenheit. That observation was made back in 2010, but NASA has documented repeated freezes in this area down to -133 or less. The previous record for coldest ever temperature measured was captured at a Russian Antarctic research station that overlies subglacial Lake Vostok, the site of Russia's mission to drill down through the ice in search of life. The new record beats out the old one by 7 degrees Fahrenheit.

These record-setting temperatures tend to happen on cloud-free nights. Clouds act as insulation, trapping heat near the surface. When the sky clears, energy being radiated by the Earth is able to escape in to space, driving already cool temperatures down even more.

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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