It’s 117 Degrees in One Place Today, and -87 Degrees in Another

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The effects of global warming have continued to make the average temperatures across the world rise to all-time record levels most months. The rates at which Antarctic ice melts continues to be tremendously high. However, the change in global weather has not altered the fact that some parts of the planet remain brutally cold, and temperatures, particularly in Antarctica, can be close to 100 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, while in parts of the Middle East and India, temperatures often register above 100 degrees.

Today, and likely for the next several days, the temperature at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, the southern-most place in the world, will be about 90 degrees F below zero. The reading this morning was 87 degrees F below, to be precise, and the wind chill factor is closer to minus 120. Cold weather is also driven by the fact that the U.S. research station is also 9,301 feet above sea level. From May through September, the average low temperature is 80 degrees F below zero. Several of America’s coldest cities have posted record low temperatures of 40 degrees F below zero, which shows that a place need not be at the bottom of the world to be extremely cold.

At the other extreme, the temperature at the King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, is 117 degrees F today. It is one of the largest airports in the Middle East and handles over 200,000 flights per year. Jeddah sits midway down the Saudi coast on the Red Sea. It is located in an area, including also Kuwait, Qatar, and Egypt, in which several of its cities often post the world’s hottest temperatures. Four of the hottest inhabited places on Earth are in the kingdom.

While the world overall is getting colder, the spread between the hottest places on Earth and the coldest is likely to remain very wide. A study by researchers who are part of the British Antarctic Survey showed that some areas around the South Pole have gotten colder, on average, over the last two decades. Scientists from the National Snow and Ice Data Center say that a combination of clear sky and dry air keeps temperatures at those extremely low levels.

As for the highest temperatures — sections of the Middle East, Pakistan, and India set records most years as temperatures often hit above 110 degrees several days in a row. And, during the summer, some of America’s hottest cities regularly post temperatures that are over 100 degrees. But some places are rather cold even in the summer. These are the coldest places on Earth in the dead of summer.