Researchers at the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado (Boulder) have uncovered new mechanisms for the formation of very cold regions in Antarctica. All of them are located on the East Antarctic Plateau, are small in size and in the form of spots. As for the cold, the temperature inside the spots drops to a record -94 ... -98 ° C.
The previous officially registered record for the lowest temperature on Earth in natural conditions is -89 ° C, it was set at the Soviet station in 1983. Thirty years later, satellite instruments found areas in Antarctica where the temperature should have dropped below 90 degrees below zero. A large-scale study was launched, during which they studied data from NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites, as well as the NOAA satellite group for 2004-2016. The result was a new cold record of -98 ° C.
All spots with record cold temperatures are located on the East Antarctic Plateau, haphazardly and at different distances from each other. These are small depressions, landslides and other depressions in the ice sheet, where, in calm weather, heavy cold air settles down and can stand there for several days, cooling down even more. There is a minimum of moisture in the atmosphere here, and heat dissipates very quickly from the surface of the snow. The lowest temperatures were recorded in the spots where the microclimate proved to be the most stable.
The measurements were made remotely, from satellites, and not the air temperature at the surface of the earth, as expected, but the temperature of the upper layer of snow was measured. If we apply the known patterns and coefficients, we get an estimated air temperature of about -94 ° C, which is also a new record. For the final solution of the problem, it is planned to organize a ground expedition in the next few years, which will study the nature of these cold Antarctic patches.