Updated 12:08 PM EDT, Tue, Sep 02, 2014

Coldest Place on Earth Discovered, Record-Breaking Low Temperature Recorded

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Temperature Map of Antarctica
(Photo : Ted Scambos, National Snow and Ice Data Center)

A satellite has discovered the coldest place on planet Earth. The East Antarctic location has unofficially set a new record for coldest temperature ever recorded.

NASA and U.S. Geological scientists used satellites to measure and pinpoint the coldest area found on the Earth, according to a press release from the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Scientists determined that a plateau stretching 1,000 kilometers across East Antarctica has temperatures lower than most people could even comprehend; between 2003 and 2013, temperatures ranged between -92 degrees Celsius (-133.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and -93.2 degrees Celsius (-135.76 degrees Fahrenheit).

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Scientists used the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor found on the Aqua satellite and the Landsat 8 satellite to record the temperatures. Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, describes what experiencing these extreme temperatures would be like:

"I've never been in conditions that cold and I hope I never am ... I am told that every breath is painful and you have to be extremely careful not to freeze part of your throat or lungs when inhaling."

The record-breaking temperatures were recorded in various hollows around the area, which are three to six miles wide and only 6 to 13 feet deep. These hollows are near several Antarctic bases, but these are not occupied by people during the winter when these temperatures were recorded. When the sky is clear, cold air forms near the surface and begins to move downhill. This air is trapped in the hollows and then gets colder still. Scambos explains the phenomenon and why these conditions don't occur in the United States:

"The record-breaking conditions seem to happen when a wind pattern or an atmospheric pressure gradient tries to move the air back uphill, pushing against the air that was sliding down...This allows the air in the low hollows to remain there longer and cool even further under the clear, extremely dry sky conditions...When the cold air lingers in these pockets it reaches ultra-low temperatures. Any gardener knows that clear skies and dry air in spring or winter lead to the coldest temperatures at night...The thing is, here in the United States and most of Canada, we don't get a night that lasts three or four or six months long for things to really chill down under extended clear sky conditions."

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