Winter is a time for the coldest temperatures to be registered in places within the temperate zones. However, some places on earth experience cold conditions far longer than others. Proximity to the Earth’s poles, altitude and climate contribute to some places being bitterly cold for the majority of the year. The search for the world’s coldest places yields a combination of expected and unexpected results.
Lowest reported temperature: -89.2 degrees Celsius/-129 degrees Fahrenheit
With 98% of it being ice and snow, and approximately 90% of Earth’s ice located on it, it is no surprise that the world’s fifth-largest continent – Antarctica – is the coldest region on earth. According to extremescience, the South Pole continent is as dry as it is cold, and is also the highest and windiest of the seven continents.
The coldness of the region is exacerbated by the Antarctic’s six months of sunlight per year, since the sun rises and sets just once a year at the South Pole. If winter brings bitterly cold conditions to some temperate zones, imagine what the frigid extremities of Antarctica yields during the winter – its darkest period. Temperatures during the dark Antarctic winter, when the surrounding seas freeze over, are estimated to plunge as low as -90 degrees Celsius/-130 degrees Fahrenheit).
Lowest reported temperature: -67.7 degrees Celsius /-90 degrees Fahrenheit
Being very close to the Arctic Circle and hosting the barely inhabitable Siberian region, Russia has three of the coldest inhabitable towns on earth. Just a few hundred miles south of the Arctic Circle, Oymyakon is the coldest inhabitable region in Russia and on Earth by extension. Even though the official recorded low is -67.7 degrees Celsius, unofficial figures suggest that it the lowest temperature could be as low as -71.2 degrees Celsius. With a protracted nine-month winter, it is obvious why the temperatures reach such depths in Oymyakon.
Another town in the vast region of Siberia also counts as one of the coldest on earth – Verkoyhansk, which has the greatest difference between summer and winter temperatures according to MSN Travel UK. Yakutsk, Russia, is not as cold as Oymyakon or Verkyhansk. However, with a low of -64 degrees Celsius it would test anyone’s frost tolerance.
Lowest recorded temperature: -66 degrees Celsius/ -87 degrees Fahrenheit
With dry Arctic weather, Greenland’s low temperatures are not necessarily as bad as what obtains in wetter temperate climates with similar temperatures. On average, the temperature in Greenland remains a few degrees below freezing, rarely rising above the freezing point.
Lowest reported temperature: -63.9 degrees Celsius/ -83 degrees Fahrenheit
Snag has the lowest recorded temperature outside of Europe (including Greenland) and holds the record for the fifth coldest town in the world. Snag, a town in the Yukon Territory of Canada (next to Alaska) holds the record for the lowest temperature in North America. It earned that distinction as far back as 1947, a day after setting the record at -62.2 degrees Celsius. The official recording is -63 degrees, however, since the lowest mark on the thermometer (-80 degrees F) was passed, leaving some guesswork to fill in the rest.
Prospect Creek, Alaska
Lowest recorded temperature: -62 degrees Celsius/ -80 degrees Fahrenheit
Prospect Creek was once declared one of the coldest areas in the United States. Back in January 1971, this town in Alaska recorded -62 degrees Celsius. Part of the reason for the cold temperatures in Prospect Creek is the fact that it is 196 meters above sea level. Apart from being the coldest recorded temperature in the United States, Prospect Creek has the sixth lowest official recording on Earth. On the U.S. mainland, there are some places that get well below freezing point during winter. The most notable of these are Stanley, Idaho and International Falls, Minnesota.
The temperature extremes demonstrate that the concept of cold is relative. Folks in the Caribbean think it is cold when the temperature is 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Those in Siberia find -20 degrees Fahrenheit a great reason to go outside. At least most of those who endure cold weather just have to do that for a few winter months, and when there is sunlight.