Earth’s coldest place
Scientists have found out just how cold the coldest place on Earth can get: a truly chilly minus 144 degrees Fahrenheit, NationalGeographic.com reports. That freezing temperature was recorded on an ice sheet deep in Antarctica during the polar winter. The measurement shatters the previous known coldest air temperature: minus 128.6, recorded at Russia’s Vostok weather station, near the South Pole, in 1983. Inhaling air that cold can cause your lungs to hemorrhage after a few breaths, so Russian researchers wore masks that warmed the air when they went outside to check on instruments. A team at the University of Colorado speculated that the temperature was likely even colder at a nearby spot, where the domed East Antarctic ice sheet reaches its apex. The team used satellite measurements to map surface temperatures there and found that the air at human head height was about minus 137, dropping to minus 144 at ground level. “It’s a place where Earth is so close to its limit, it’s almost like another planet,” study leader Ted Scambos says. With Antarctica warming because of climate change, this might be the coldest air temperature scientists will ever record on Earth.