Believe it or not, people live for months at a time in cold weather that would probably send most of us diving Under the blankets. At spots in high mountains and in high latitudes (that is, closer to the north and south poles), the lack of sunlight and thin air creates perfect conditions for very cold weather. Listed here are the lowest air temperatures ever recorded on Earth. If you ever plan to visit, make sure you pack your earmuffs! Because you are going to visit the world’s coldest places.
Coldest places in the world
Kittila, Finland, 1999 (Minus 51.5 C)
To reach Kittila, you have to cross the Arctic Circle and keep going north. Though a popular ski resort as well as a mining centre, this Finnish town can also be one of the coldest spots on Earth.
Just because the climate of an area is generally warm doesn’t mean it can’t have cold records. Check out these cold-weather trivia tidbits:
Coldest in Africa – Ifrane, Morocco, 1935 (-24 C)
Coldest in South America, San Juan Province, Argentina, 1972 (-38C )
Snow on the Equator! Cayambe Mountains, Part of the Andes in Equador
Rogers Pass Montana, USA, 1954 (Minus 57 C)
Snowbound most of the winter, this location high in the Rocky Mountains has held the continental USA record
for more than 50 years! What about the lowest annual average temperature? For the 50 United States, the winner is Barrow, Alaska, which has averaged about -11.20 C over the past 30 years.
Snag Yukon, Canada, 1947 (Minus 63.8 C)
Show some skin in weather this cold and it will freeze in less than 3 minutes! A Siberian air mass created this Canadian all-time record, which is saying something, since Canada also has recorded dozens of temperatures of more than 40 degrees below zero Celsius.
North Ice Station, Greenland, 1954 (Minus 66 C)
For two years, British researchers lived on the snowy, rocky, windswept heights of this station on Greenland. While they were there, instruments at the station recorded the lowest temperature ever in North America. Brrrr!
Oymyakon, Russia, 1933 (Minus 67.7 C)
Want to talk about a great tourist town? Then you probably won’t be talking about this far-off outpost of civilization in Siberia, Russia. Oymyakon is the coldest place on Earth in which people live year-round. How cold is it? To prevent cars from freezing, most people leave the engines running all day and night. If someone dies, they have to burn the ground to thaw it out before digging a grave.
A regular treat? Frozen meat, since it can be more expensive to heat up than to buy the meat. And did we mention that it’s dark 21 hours a day for months at a time during winter? Average winter temperatures are around -45.5 C. A photographer reported that he had to hold his breath while shooting, otherwise, his breath cloud would fog the lens!
More stuff of interest
A new Low:
A spot on the East Antarctic Plateau, 2010 (Minus 93.2 C)
In 2010, scientists used new satellite and ground-based radar instruments to find the coldest spot on Earth. The previous record holder at the Vostok Research Station (Antarctica) was not nearly as high above sea level as this spot on the East Antarctic Plateau, No one was here in person for the measurement … no one could have likely survived outside to read a thermometer anyway! No life can exist — that we know of — at temperatures this low.
The old low:
Vostok Station, Antarctica, 1983 ( Minus 89 C)
Scientists were actually inside the station to measure the outside temperature for this second-coldest day. Research stations like this one are not all staffed year-round. For one thing, no rescue airplanes or ships could reach them in case of emergency for months at a time. In fact, anyone who volunteers to do research in this isolated spot has to have already had their appendix and wisdom teeth removed. This is to avoid at least those two emergencies causing problems for hard-to-reach outposts. The windchill here was once recorded at as low as -123.8C in 2005!
When temperatures plunge to well below freezing, bad things can happen to the human body. In some places, the air can be too cold to breathe. Some scientists working in the Antarctic breathe through snorkels that pass air through tubes next to their body. That way the air is heated enough to breathe.
The body also wants to keep its most important parts warm, so in extreme cold, blood rushes from the limbs to the head and trunk. With less blood in the fingers and toes, the body has less protection from the cold. Frostbite can literally kill fingers, toes, feet, and more.
What about our eyeballs? Actually, they can’t really freeze since they’re in your head, which the body wants to keep warm. Tears are also salty, so that keeps them from freezing. But your nose can freeze! Best option when you’re cold? Get indoors quickly!