Planet Earth is a world of extremes with vast areas of the world subject to extreme climates which make habitation a huge challenge, if not downright impossible.
Humans have evolved and adapted in order to be able to live in these extreme climates but some places of the world are simply ruled by nature as they are too extreme to support human life of any kind.
The very North and South of our planet are two such a
reas where the extreme cold dominates and ice and snow are permanent residents. Here is a list of the 10 coldest places on the planet where the lowest temperatures ever recorded have been seen.
Snag, Yukon, Canada
Snag is a small settlement located just off the Alaska Highway and South of Beaver Creek, Yukon. The Canadian town has two temperatures; cold and freezing. The residents of Snag have grown accustomed to the extreme cold but the settlement itself remains small as t
he freezing climate often proves too much for newcomers. Snag holds the record for the lowest ever temperature recorded in continental North America when the temperature hit -62.7 C in February 1947.
North Ice, Greenland
North Ice was once a research station and part of the British North Greenland Expedition which took place from 1952 to 1954. The chillingly beautiful expanse of ice is the fifth coldest place on the planet and the expectation recorded the lowest temperature ever experience in North America on 9th January 1954 when temperatures plummeted to -66 C. With an arctic climate like that it is no surprise the expedition only lasted two years.
Oymyakon has an extreme subarctic climate and the ground is permanently frozen in the town of only 472 people. Oymyakon is known as one of the candidates for the Northern Pole of Cold and is officially recognised as one of the two coldest regularly inhabited places on the planet. It is here that the lowest recorded temperature for any permanently inhabited location on Earth was recorded in 1924. Russian scientist Sergey Obrychev registered the temperature at Oymyakon’s weather station at a teeth-chattering -71.2 C and that record has stood ever since.
Verkhoyansk is the second of the two coldest regularly inhabited placed of the planet and also a candidate for the Northern Pole of Cold. With roughly 1,434 hardened residents, the small Russian town is infamous for its incredibly low winter temperatures. In winter, average temperatures sit around -45.5 C but the lowest temperature recorded in the town was registered in February 1892 when it plummeted to -69.8 C. Verkhoyansk is also well known for having some of the greatest temperature differences between summer and winter on Earth, which may be why it has many more permanent settlers than Oymyakon.
Vostok Station, Antarctica
The Vostok Station is a Russian Antarctic research station found at the southern Pole of Cold. It sits at 3488 meters above sea level and up until recently it held the record for the coldest temperature ever recorded at a toe-curling -89.2 C which was measured on the 21st July 1983. The coldest time to be working at the station is during August and the other traditionally summer months.
Klinck Research Station, Greenland
Located within the Arctic Circle, Klinck Research station is a lonely and isolated place to be during the winter months. While the number of residents of the station can peak at 55 during the summer months, the resident population during winter is usually just 5. At 3,216 meters above sea level, the actual coordinates of the station are often changeable as the ice it is settled on is constantly moving. Direct observations of the temperatures here have seen them fall as low as -69.4 C.
Mount McKinley, Alaska
Mount McKinley, or Denali as it is often known, is the highest mountain peak in North America with an elevation at the summit of 6,190 meters above sea level. McKinley has long been considered the coldest mountain on earth where winter temperatures regularly dive to -40 C and below. The coldest temperature here was recorded sometime between 1950 and 1969 at -73.8 C.
Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station
Named after the famous explorers who raced to the South Pole, the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station is located at the southernmost place on earth. The station is found on the only place on earth where the Sun is continuously up for six months and then continuously down for six months. This intense dark period has seen temperatures drop to below -73 C regularly but the lowest ever recorded temperature here was -82.5 C recorded in June 1982.
Dome Argus, Antarctic Plateau
Located on the highest point of ice sheet in the Antarctic region, Dome Argus is situated near East Antarctica at 4901 meters above sea level. July 2005 saw the lowest temperatures here ever recorded, with the lowest being a shocking -82.5 C.
Dome Fuji ridge, East Antarctic Plateau
A baron and lonely spot located between Dome Argus and Dome Fuji on the East Antarctic Plateau has recently become the record holder for the coldest temperature ever recorded on planet Earth. A title previously held by the Russian Vostok Research Station for 27 years, the new lowest temperature was captured by a NASA satellite in August 2010. This isolated region is not surprisingly empty of human life so thankfully there was no one around to try and cope with the fatally cold -93.2 C which was recorded. However, Vostok is still officially the coldest place on earth because the temperature was not recorded directly; it is not counted as a new Guinness World Record.
After looking through this list of goose bump-inducing coldest places on earth, it puts a new perspective on the “cold” temperatures we experience here come winter time. Thankfully, these extreme temperatures are limited to the most Northern and furthest Southern parts of our planet but it will be interesting to see how recent changes in the earth’s climate will affect the coldest temperature readings in years to come.