As 100-degree weather spread across much of the U.S. this weekend, and temperatures rose to 70 degrees near the Arctic Circle yesterday, one place is remarkably cold. At this location near the South Pole, the temperature is 93 degrees below zero.
Dome A, where the low temperature was recorded today, is in Antarctica and is extremely cold for several reasons. It is between the South Pole and the Lambert Glacier, the largest glacier in eastern Antarctica. The area is routinely among the coldest in the world. The location also puts it in a chain of mountains which rise over 13,000 feet above sea level. The elevation adds to the sharp drops in temperature.
The area around Dome A is acknowledged to be the coldest place on earth throughout most of the year. According to a scientific paper which studied the area, “satellite data collected during the Antarctic polar night during 2004–2016 reveal a broad region of the high East Antarctic Plateau above Vostok that regularly reaches snow surface temperatures of −90 °C and below”. Dome A is also one of the driest places on earth. It gets less than an inch of snow in most years.
Dome A is also known as Dome Argus, named for a shipbuilder in Greek mythology. He was also one of the Argonauts who helped Jason look for the Golden Fleece. The name was picked by members of the Scott Polar Research Institute which is part of the University of Cambridge in England
The temperature at Dome A today is nowhere near the record low there. In July 2005 it was measured at 116 degrees below zero. Scientists believe that in an area close to Dome A, temperatures have dropped below 130 degrees.
The hottest places on Earth right now are posting temperatures of 120 degrees. At Dome A, they are rarely above minus 70.
No one will ever be able to live in the hostile environs of Dome A. The coldest inhabited places on Earth, even with extremely low temperatures are nowhere near as cold as at Dome A