The Russian station, Vostok, sits on the polar plateau. The coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth was -89.2 degrees Celsius (-128.6 degrees Fahrenheit), measured at Vostok in 1983. An even lower temperature, -97.8 degrees Celsius (-144 degrees Fahrenheit) was discovered in a satellite recorded temperature dataset from 2004-2016.

Photograph by Josh Landis, courtesy U.S. Antarctic Program

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  • On July 21, 1983, Russian scientists recorded the lowest temperature, measured on the ground, in the world: -89 degrees Celsius (-129 degrees Fahrenheit), in Vostok, a research station in Antarctica. This was the actual temperature of the air, without wind-chill, during the Antarctic winter.

    Scientists have since learned that specific weather patterns contributed to Vostok Station’s unusual chill. Cold air circled the station, with almost no clouds above. Warmer air could not circulate. Vostok Station happens to be in a spot of extreme cold, even for Antarctica!

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    circulate Verb

    to move around, often in a pattern.

    cloud Noun

    visible mass of tiny water droplets or ice crystals in Earth's atmosphere.

    Encyclopedic Entry: cloud
    contribute Verb

    to give or donate.

    research station Noun

    structure or structures built for scientific study of the surrounding region, possibly including residential and lab facilities.

    weather Verb

    to change as a result of exposure to wind, rain, or other atmospheric conditions.

    wind-chill temperature Noun

    combination of an area's air temperature and wind speed.