Antarctica Coldest Temperature Ever Recorded - According to a new study published this week, small valleys at the top of Antarctica's ice sheet reach temperatures of nearly -100 degrees Celsius.
. According to the researchers, the discovery could change scientists' understanding of how and why low temperatures reach the Earth's surface.
Antarctica Coldest Temperature Ever Recorded
Snow conditions at a campsite near Vostok Station during the Antarctic summer. - Credit: Ted Scambos,
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After sifting through data from several Earth-observing satellites, scientists announced in 2013 that they had found surface temperatures of -93 degrees Celsius (-135 degrees Fahrenheit) at several locations on the East Antarctic Plateau, which There is a high ice plateau in central Antarctica. At the South Pole. This initial study has been revised with new data showing that cold places can actually reach -98 degrees Celsius (-144 degrees Fahrenheit). Temperatures during the South Pole night are mostly observed in July and August.
When researchers first announced the discovery of the coldest temperatures on Earth five years ago, they determined that consistently clear skies and light winds would be necessary for temperatures to drop that far. But the new study adds a twist to the story: Not only are clear skies essential, but the air must also be very dry because water vapor prevents heat loss from the snow surface.
The researchers observed extremely low temperatures in small dips, or shallow depressions, in the Antarctic ice sheet, where pools of cold, dense, descending air remain above the surface and persist for days. This allows the surface and air above it to cool further until the clear, calm and dry conditions break down and the air mixes with the warm air in the atmosphere.
"In this region, we see periods of incredibly dry air, and that allows heat from the ice surface to dissipate very easily into space," said Ted Scambos, senior research scientist at the university's National Ice and Snow Data Center. Is." Boulder, Colorado and lead author of the study.
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According to researchers, the coldest temperature on Earth's surface is -98 degrees Celsius. Clear skies and dry air should persist for several days to keep temperatures low. If conditions persist for several weeks, temperatures could drop slightly, but that's unlikely, Scambos said.
The elevation of the East Antarctic Plateau and its proximity to the South Pole give it the coldest climate of any region on Earth. The lowest air temperature ever recorded by a weather station was -89 °C (-128 °F) in July 1983 at the Vostok station in Russia.
But weather stations cannot measure temperature everywhere. So in 2013, Scambos and his colleagues decided to analyze data from several Earth-observing satellites.
In the new study, they analyzed satellite data collected during the Southern Hemisphere winter between 2004 and 2016. They used data from the MODIS instrument on NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites and data from instruments on NOAA's Polar Operational Atmospheric Satellites.
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The researchers observed that snow surface temperatures routinely drop below -90 degrees Celsius (-130 degrees Fahrenheit) every winter in a large area of the plateau at 3,500 meters (11,000 feet) above sea level. goes Within this vast area, they found dozens of sites with extremely cold temperatures. The surface temperature has reached -98 degree Celsius in about 100 places.
The atmosphere in this region sometimes contains less than 0.2 mm of total precipitation above the surface. But even when it's dry and cool, the air captures some heat and sends it back to the surface. This means that the rate of cooling is very slow as surface temperatures approach record values. Conditions won't last long – it could take weeks for temperatures to drop below observed records. However, the temperature measured by the satellite is the surface temperature of the ice, not the air above it. So the study also estimated air temperature using nearby automated weather stations and satellite data.
Interestingly, although the coldest spots were spread over hundreds of kilometers, the lowest temperatures were almost identical. This made them wonder: Is there a limit to the cold on the plateau?
Using differences between subsurface snow temperatures at Vostok and satellite measurements of air temperatures at three automated stations and at the same location and time, the researchers estimated air temperatures at the coldest locations (where no There were no stations). Maybe -94 degrees Celsius or about -137 degrees Fahrenheit.
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The research team has also developed a set of instruments to survive and operate in extreme cold winters and to measure snow and air temperatures. They plan to use the devices in the next year or two during the Antarctic summer, when temperatures are relatively mild at -30 degrees Celsius (-22 degrees Fahrenheit).
The East Antarctic Plateau is a windswept wasteland about the size of Australia with few sites or tools. - Credit: Ted Scambos,
A ski track crossing East Antarctica. The Antarctic Plateau is a desolate, windswept expanse traversed by few explorers and adventurers. - Credit: Ted Scambos,
The 2007 to 2009 scientific expedition crossed the East Antarctic Plateau in late summer. A few months later, in July and August, colder conditions occur during the polar night. - Credit: Ted Scambos,
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Persistent winds shape the surface of East Antarctica's ice into small ridges called 'chasrogi'. - Credit: Ted Scambos, Sastrugi is pictured emerging from the surface of the ice near Plateau Station in East Antarctica. Despite the subtle domes, ridges, and craters, much of Antarctica appears to be fairly flat.
Scientists recently recorded Earth's coldest temperatures on a desolate and remote ice plateau in East Antarctica, breaking the record set in 1983 and revealing a new mystery about the ice-covered continent. gave Lead scientist Ted Scambos and his team found temperatures ranging from −92 to −94 degrees Celsius (−134 to −137 degrees Fahrenheit) across a 1,000 km long section of the uppermost part of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. The measurements were made between 2003 and 2013 by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor aboard NASA's Aqua satellite and by Landsat 8 during the 2013 Southern Hemisphere winter, which was jointly operated by NASA and the Geological Survey. Started earlier this year.
Scambos is a member of the Landsat Science Group, which provides scientific support on mission-critical issues for Landsat Earth observation satellites. "I've never been cold, and I hope I never am," Scambos said. "I was told that every breath is painful and you have to be very careful not to freeze part of your throat or lungs while breathing." Several degrees colder than the previous record temperature of −89.2 °C (−128.6 °F) measured on July 21, 1983 at the Vostok Research Station in East Antarctica. They are much colder than the lowest temperatures recorded in the United States, −62 °C (−79.6 °F) in Alaska, −68 °C (−90.4 °F) in northern Asia, or extremes. The Greenland ice sheet has recorded temperatures of −75 °C (−103 °F) in pockets 5 to 10 km (3 by 6 mi) across, Skambos said. The holes lie beyond the ice sheet that runs between Dome Argus and Dome Fuji - the ice-dome summits of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. Antarctic sites sit at each site and are not normally occupied during the Antarctic winter.
This image shows the location of the record low temperature reading for Antarctica. The red dots show where record satellite surface temperatures and previous record low air temperatures occurred. Shades of gray are a composite of very low MODIS-sensor land surface temperature measurements made by NASA's Aqua satellite from 2003-2013, with darker grays indicating colder regions. Landsat 8 thermal images acquired in July and August 2013 provided more detail on the cold regions (purple squares). Antarctic surface elevation is shown in green lines, and blue lines show the edge of the Antarctic continent, its islands, and its floating ice sheet.
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In these regions, under clear winter skies, cold air forms near the surface of the snow. Since cold air is denser than the air above, it begins to move downward. If conditions are favorable, the air collects in nearby craters and cools further. “When the wind pattern or atmospheric pressure gradient tries to push the air back up, pushing against the wind, conditions arise that cause the instrument to overturn.
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