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Scientists pinpoint section of Antarctica as coldest place on Earth



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"Scientists pinpoint section of Antarctica as coldest place on Earth"
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Think winter has arrived too early this year and feel like heading south? If so, be sure not to travel too far as you might stumble into the coldest area on Earth. Which just happens to be in the vicinity of the South Pole.

Scientists from the National Snow and Ice Data Center believe they have found the coldest location on Earth. According to Live Science, the researchers announced the findings at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco on Dec. 9, 2013. The team said that brutally cold temperatures of minus 136 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 93.2 Celsius) were detected in a section of Antarctica. This record breaking temperature occurred on Aug. 10, 2010.

Researchers say there were "pockets" of harshly cold areas located in the vicinity of an ice ride between Dome Argus and Dome Fuji, both located on the East Antarctic Plateau. The scientists managed to capture measurements of these frigid pockets using satellite technology, which was enhanced with the recent addition NASA's Landsat 8, which was launched on Feb. 11, 2013. In total, 32 years' worth of data was derived from several different satellite instruments, which scientists used to reach their conclusion.

Landsat 8 is a joint project of NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

"We had a suspicion this Antarctic ridge was likely to be extremely cold, and colder than Vostok because it's higher up the hill," Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colo., said at the conference, reported NASA. "With the launch of Landsat 8, we finally had a sensor capable of really investigating this area in more detail."

Antarctica is notoriously cold, averaging minus 127 degrees Fahreinheit (-83 degrees Celcius) with only slight variation in temperatures, reported National  Geographic, indicating these new record low temps are "not an outlier event" for an Antarctic winter.

From the sounds of it, scientists are eager to utilize the data Landsat 8, which was built at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., is capable of collecting. The instrument collects approximately 550 images per day and USGS freely distributes these free online.

Scambos said finding these frigid temperatures in Antarctica is the beginning of discoveries, indicating Landsat 8's capabilities could open up all sorts of knowledge on the Earth and its various climates.

NASA noted the previous record setting low temperature occurred in 1983. At that time, beyond blustery cold temperature of minus 128.6 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 89.2 degrees Celsius) was detected at the Russian Vostok Research Station in East Antarctica. There is a difference in technique, however, as the newly recorded temperatures were taken at the Earth's surface, whereas the previous record, taken at the Vostok station, was measured 6.5 feet above the surface; meaning it was likely a bit warmer.

Either way, that is one cold winter!

According to several media reports, the coldest ever inhabited locations can be found in the northeastern section of Siberia. Two towns, Verkhoyansk and Oimekon, each reached minus 90 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 67.8 degrees Celsius) in the early 1980s.

Related reading:

NASA–The Coldest Place in the World - YouTube video
More information on Landsat 8

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ARTICLE SOURCES AND CITATIONS
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  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://arxiv.org/abs/1305.5109
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/nasa-usgs-landsat-8-satellite-pinpoints-coldest-spots-on-earth/#.UqsUafRDsrU
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/12/131210-coldest-place-on-earth-antarctica-science/
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/landsat/main/index.html
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/landsat/main/index.html
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/landsat/main/index.html