A new look at NASA satellite data has revealed that the Earth set a new record low for temperature in East Antarctica. In August 2010, the mercury hit -135.8°F, a soul-crushingly low temperature that will freeze even the strongest lungs. The old record was set in 1983, when temperatures were measured at -128.6 degrees by thermometers in Vostok, Antarctica. The change appears to be a permanent one, as temperatures came close to the record again this year, reaching -135.3 degrees on July 31.
Ice scientist Ted Scambos from the National Snow and Ice Data Center told USA Today that the new record is “50 degrees colder than anything that has ever been seen in Alaska or Siberia or certainly North Dakota.” However, since the temperature was measured by satellite, it won’t be recognized by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) or make it into the Guinness Book of World Records.
To get a good sense of how cold this is, Scambos explained that scientists routinely make naked 100 degree below zero dashes outside in the South Pole, but they can normally only survive that temperature for about three minutes, and then only if they breathe through a snorkel to avoid accidentally breathing in the frigid air.
The record cold is no reason to discount global warming however, said Waleed Abdalati, aUniversity of Colorado researcher and NASA’s former chief scientist. Both Abdalati, who wasn’t part of the measurement team, and Scambos said this is more than likely an extreme reading in a place that hasn’t been measured much before. It could have been much colder or hotter in the past and there would be no way to know without proper records.
Via USA Today