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The Poles of Cold are the places in the southern and northern hemispheres where the lowest air temperatures have been recorded.

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  • Coldest Inhabited Place On Earth - Could You Survive Here?
  • Top 10 Coldest Place In The World


People manage to live in some pretty remote places. Take the 258 folks that live on the island of Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic. If you want to visit them, you’ll have to take a ship from Cape Town for a journey of 1,732 miles [2,787 km]. For some peace and quiet you might also visit Barrow, Alaska, which is only reachable by plane. The 4,200 inhabitants of this town spend much of their extremely cold winters in total darkness. Even more remote is the town of Ittoqqortoormiit in Greenland, whose 452 population make their money fishing shrimp and hunting whales and polar bears. They are also happy to put the intrepid tourist up for the night. How would you fare in one of these far-flung destinations? That’s what we’ll find out today, in this episode of the Infographics Show, Could you survive in Siberia? It really depends which part of Siberia we are talking about of course. If, for example, you were dropped off in the city of Novosibirsk, the largest city in Siberia, you’d be fine as it’s a modern city and you’d be living there with around 1.5 million other people. Ok, so the winter is not exactly inviting, but survival wouldn’t be an issue at all. But the Soviets chose Siberia as the location where people deemed a threat to the regime were sent to die for a good reason. Parts of it are about as remote as you can get. Siberia itself is massive, with a total land area of 5,050,000 square miles [13,100,000 km2]. That’s about 77 percent of the land area in the whole of Russia. Despite that, only 27 percent of Russia’s population lives there. The harsh climate doesn’t exactly make life easy for the 36 million people that inhabit Siberia. The more remote you get, the more space people have. The almost-19,000 people that live in Koryak Okrug on the western tip of Siberia have 116,000 square miles [301,500 km2] to play with. The largest ethnic group there are the Koryaks, and we bet you’ve never even heard of them. They live alongside other indigenous people, such as the Evens, Itelmens and the Chukchi people. But let’s say we are sending you to the most remote part of Siberia, also sometimes called the coldest year-round inhabited place on the planet. This place is called Oymyakon, and the 500 folks that live here can enjoy just an average of 3 hours of daylight per day in December. In June the sun comes out, but it’s out for 21 hours a day. The lowest recorded temperature there was −89.9F [−67.7C], which is a bit chilly for most people. If you go there next winter, you can expect the average temperature to be around -58F [-50C]. In fact, it’s bitterly cold most of the year, with temperatures at the peak of summer being 58.8F [14.9C] on average. You get the picture. But could you survive there? Well, people do, even though pictures of them online depict them walking through a landscape that looks like a miniature town that’s been sitting in your freezer for 10 years. Once you are there, it’s not easy getting out. The nearest town called Yakutsk is 576 miles [926km] away. One journalist that visited the town said he was surprised that people living there were not exactly hardened to the freezing temperatures. “I'd expected that the locals would be accustomed to the winters and there would be everyday life happening in the streets,” he told The Telegraph newspaper, adding, “But people were very wary of the cold.” Yep, if it gets too bad, say below -50, the kids don’t even go to school. He said the entire town felt abandoned, as anything that happened generally happened inside. That meant that he didn’t get to meet many of the local folks. “The only companions I had were the occasional street dog, or one of the drunks,” he said. Thank God for dogs and drunks. But he also said the locals were not exactly the warmest people in the world. “They were a tough people,” he said. “I expected there to be human warmth there, but I didn't experience that at all.” He went as far as to say that during his trip he was threatened outside twice by drunks, adding that if you end up unconscious on the floor there it means you’ll likely die. He was only there a short while, too. His conclusion. “It didn't feel like a happy place.” Living there is hard on you in many ways. Reports suggest that just a walk down the street to the local store is exhausting, with everyday tasks like tying a shoe lace outside are difficult. The weather rules over every aspect of your life, and get things wrong and it could mean frostbite or worse. The BBC said the same thing. Its journalist said that even though the frost melts during some parts of the year, it melts slowly, and the ground is not much good for farming. Even dying is hard. “It takes two or three days to dig a grave in frozen ground,” wrote the BBC. So, first things first, if you do get sent there to live you will have to get decked out in the local-style clothes. Fashion is of little importance of course, and most people there wear the best survival gear there is – not available in your local sporting goods store. The inhabitants just about all wear fur hats and fur coats. A coat will set you back about $1,500. One journalist explained what it’s like not having the right clothes. “This was so cold that after no more than a few minutes outside, exposed skin started to smart with pain, damp surfaces in my nostrils froze, and toes and fingers turned uncomfortably cold very quickly, despite three layers of thick socks and two pairs of gloves.” Yep, you really have to follow the locals here, so don’t think about getting precious about wearing something fashioned out of a dead Arctic fox. The BBC journalist had better luck than the Telegraph journalist who only seemed to meet angry drunk men. She was invited into a house to watch a mother dressing her daughter before she went to school. Dressing was an important part of the day. “In other parts of Russia, you can throw on a coat to go outdoors, here it takes ages to dress. But we are used to it. This is our home,” the mother said. Ok, so what do the locals do to survive. Hardly anything grows, you can’t be out for long, and even if you are out it’s hardly Disney Land. Well, one western photographer wrote that a way people deal with the harsh climate is to booze the dark days away. “Russki chai, literally Russian tea, which is their word for vodka,” said the guy, adding that they drink a lot of ‘tea’. He wrote that as plumbing is virtually impossible so most people use outhouses to do their business in. Cars cannot even be left in a garage if it’s not heated as they won’t start again. If for some reason your car fails to keep running outdoors, it’s likely it won’t start again. This is not a town where you want to break down. Oh, and once you get dropped off there by plane at the beginning of winter, that’s it for air travel for the rest of the winter season. Those are private planes, too, there is no regular airline that goes there. Most people take the long drive, but that’s also perilous. The road in is called the “Road of Bones.” It’s perilous, but it actually got that name because of all the people that died constructing the road. So, let’s say you have a house and have all your furs. Now, you’re hungry, what are you going to eat? Well, as hardly anything grows people hunt for their grub. “Yakutians love the cold food, the frozen raw Arctic fish, white salmon, whitefish, frozen raw horse liver, but they are considered to be delicacy,” one local man told “In daily life, we like eating the soup with meat. The meat is a must. It helps our health much.” You are either going to have to learn how to hunt, or look for somewhere to buy some food. Another journalist said he managed to find a place that served him reindeer soup, and that’s what he lived on for two days. He also said that you build-up a good appetite just from getting around. “After the first couple of days I was physically wrecked just from strolling around the streets for a few hours,” he said. On the menu the dishes mostly consist of stroganina, (raw frozen fish) the aforementioned reindeer meat, frozen raw horse liver, and a specialty which is ice cubes of horse blood with macaroni. Hmm, yum, yum. You can see one video made there that shows a local market where you can buy this stuff, but it’s not exactly bustling. In the film there is one customer with her child, walking around the market in -68.8F [-56C] cold. “While filming the trading rows my hands froze to wild pain. And sellers stand here all day long. How do they warm themselves?” said the filmmaker. The answer is good clothing, but also the fact these people are very, very tough. So, the answer to the question this show asks is no, we don’t think you could survive living here without a great deal of help. But it all depends on which part of Siberia of course. The more remote, the less chance you will have of survival. Or, do you disagree? Let us know in the comments! Also, be sure to check out our other video Why 2019 Will Be Horrible. Thanks for watching, and as always, please don’t forget to like, share and subscribe. See you next time!


Southern hemisphere

Lake Vostok composite image (NASA)
Lake Vostok composite image (NASA)

In the southern hemisphere, the Pole of Cold is currently located in Antarctica, at the Russian (formerly Soviet) Antarctic station Vostok at 78°28′S 106°48′E / 78.467°S 106.800°E / -78.467; 106.800 (Vostok). On July 21, 1983, this station recorded a temperature of −89.2 °C (−128.6 °F). This is the lowest naturally occurring temperature ever recorded on Earth. Vostok station is located at the elevation of 3,488 m (11,444 ft) above sea level, far removed from the moderating influence of oceans (more than 1,000 km [620 mi] from the nearest sea coast), and high latitude that results in almost three months of civil polar night every year (early May to end of July), all combine to produce an environment where temperatures rarely rise above −25 °C (−13 °F) during summer and frequently fall below −70 °C (−94 °F) in winter. By comparison, the South Pole, due to its lower elevation, is, on average, 5 to 10 °C (9 to 18 °F) warmer than Vostok, and the lowest temperature ever recorded at the South Pole is −82.8 °C (−117 °F).

It is generally thought that Vostok is not the coldest place in Antarctica, and there are locations (notably, Dome A) that are modestly colder on average. The now inactive Plateau Station, located on the central Antarctic plateau, recorded an average yearly temperature that was consistently lower than that of Vostok Station during the 37-month period that it was active in the late 1960s, with its average for the coldest month being several degrees lower than the same statistic for Vostok. Plateau Station never recorded a temperature that surpassed the record low set at Vostok. However, temperatures at Plateau Station were only recorded during the 37 months that it was active. Had a lower temperature than the Vostok record occurred there at a later date, it would never have been recorded.

Monitoring stations in Antarctica are few and far between; prior to 1995, Vostok was the only research station on the Antarctic Plateau above the elevation of 3,000 m (with the exception of Plateau Station during the brief period that it was active in the 1960s), with no other stations for several hundred kilometers in any direction. Temperatures below −89.2 °C (−128.6 °F), if they did occur elsewhere, would not have been recorded. The automatic weather station at Dome A was only installed in 2005, and has recorded −82.5 °C (−116.5 °F) as the coldest so far (2010). However a review of satellite measurements taken between 2010–2013 found several places located along a ridge between Dome A and Dome F which recorded even lower temperatures of −92 to −94 °C (−134 to −137 °F), with the lowest reliable temperature being −93.2 °C (−135.8 °F) recorded in 2010, at 81°48′S 59°18′E / 81.8°S 59.3°E / -81.8; 59.3, at an elevation of 3,900 m (12,800 ft). The extreme low temperatures are found in hollows slightly below the peak of the ice ridge, where cold air gets trapped as it flows downhill, and since the same low temperature ranges were detected at several different sites along the ridge across multiple years, it is thought this may be the lowest temperature achievable under local atmospheric conditions.[1][2]

Northern hemisphere

In the northern hemisphere, there are two places in the Sakha Republic (Yakutia), Siberia, Russia that vie for the honour of being considered the "Pole of Cold" in winter. These are Verkhoyansk (located at 67°33′N 133°23′E / 67.550°N 133.383°E / 67.550; 133.383 (Verkhoyansk)) and Oymyakon (located at 63°15′N 143°9′E / 63.250°N 143.150°E / 63.250; 143.150 (Oymyakon)).

In December 1868 and then in February 1869 Ivan Khudyakov made the discovery of the Northern Pole of Cold by measuring a record temperature of −63.2 °C (−81.8 °F) in Verkhoyansk. Later, on January 15, 1885, a temperature of −67.8 °C (−90.0 °F) was registered there by Sergey Kovalik. This measurement was published in the Annals of the General Physical Observatory in 1892; by mistake it was written as −69.8 °C (−93.6 °F),[3] which was later corrected. One can still find this incorrect value in some literature. The coldest reliably measured temperature in Verkhoyansk was −67.6 °C (−89.7 °F) on February 5 and 7 of 1892.

In 1924, Russian scientist Sergey Obruchev registered the lowest temperature −71.2 °C (−96.2 °F). On February 6, 1933, a temperature of −67.7 °C (−89.9 °F) was recorded at Oymyakon's weather station.[4] This is the coldest reliably measured temperature for the Northern Hemisphere. The weather station is in a valley between Oymyakon and Tomtor. The station is at 750 m (2,460 ft) and the surrounding mountains at 1,100 m (3,600 ft), causing cold air to pool in the valley: recent studies show that winter temperatures in the area increase with elevation by as much as 10 °C (18 °F).[5]

The small rural locality of Delyankir, also in the Sakha Republic, has a lower average temperature throughout all winter months than either Oymyakon or Verkhoyansk, as well as a lower yearly average. Its record low temperature of −65 °C (−85 °F) is slightly higher than the record lows set at Oymyakon and Verkhoyansk, however.

See also


  1. ^ Coldest spot on Earth identified by satellite. BBC News, 9 December 2013
  2. ^ Landsat 8 Helps Unveil the Coldest Place On Earth
  3. ^ N.A. Stepanova. "On the Lowest Temperatures on Earth" (PDF).
  4. ^ "Northern Hemisphere: Lowest Temperature". WMO. Archived from the original on 2012-04-20. Retrieved 2010-06-19.
  5. ^ See Response of glaciers in the Suntar-Khayata Range, eastern Siberia

External links

Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap 
Download coordinates as: KML · GPX
This page was last edited on 20 November 2018, at 16:02
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