Dec 11, 2013 11:08 AM EST
Coldest Place On Earth a 'Soul-Crushing' -135.8 Degrees In the Middle of Antarctica
Scientists say the new record for the coldest place on Earth is so frigid simply drawing a breath in the icy air would cause pain.
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According to the Associated Press, that title belongs to Antarctica at -135.8 degrees Fahrenheit (-93.2 Celsius). The old record had been about seven degrees warmer at -128.6 (-89.2 Celsius).
Researchers discovered the ferociously cold temperature after reviewing NASA satellite data and found the new low occurred in Aug. 2010. This year, on July 31, the record was threatened with a -135.3 Fahrenheit reading.
The record will not be Guinness Book of World Records official, however, as the temperature was read by a satellite and not a thermometer. Still, Ice scientist Ted Scambos, of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, said the unofficial record is "50 degrees colder than anything that has ever been seen in Alaska or Siberia or certainly North Dakota."
"It's more like you'd see on Mars on a nice summer day in the poles," he said, announcing the data Monday at the American Geophysical Union scientific meeting in San Francisco. "I'm confident that these pockets are the coldest places on Earth."
He said he does not personally know how that kind of cold feels, but that he knows researchers to expose themselves to it. To be able to breathe without feeling pain, researchers have to breathe through a snorkel that travels through the arm of their coat. This warms the air and ensures the person does not accidentally inhale the cold air.
"If you want soul-crushing cold, you really have to go overseas," Scambos told the AP. "It's just a whole other level of cold because on that cold plateau, conditions are perfect."
According to BBC News, the recently launched Landsat-8 Thermal Infrared Sensor is responsible for picking up the record cold. The researchers said they confidently believe this will set the new record, but will wait until they can verify a precise figure.
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"I'd caution Guinness not to take this result and put it in their world record book just yet, because I think the numbers will probably adjust over the coming year," Scambos told BBC News. "However, I'm now confident we know where the coldest places on Earth are, and why they are there."