A team of scientists from various U.S. universities have discovered that the coldest place on Earth can get even colder, according to new research published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
For years researchers have known that the lowest temperatures on our planet come from a frozen ice ridge in eastern Antarctica. That was then backed by a 2013 analysis of satellite data that showed certain pockets of extremely cold air on the East Antarctic Plateau cause temperatures to drop below minus 135 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, a re-analysis of the same data estimates that under the right conditions temperatures can hit minus 148 degrees Fahrenheit. If true, that would likely be as cold as the Earth gets.
To find this, the team looked at data collected on Antarctic temperatures from between 2004 and 2016 and then analyzed it while factoring in atmospheric dryness. That showed as dry air causes snow to lose heat faster than it normally would, it also causes temperatures to drop. The previously identified coldest spots on Earth are still the coldest regions on the planet, they are just a bit colder than they once were.
Though scientists cannot be sure, they believe the new record is probably as cold as Earth can get. That is because it takes very specific conditions for such temperatures to come about.
“There’s a limit to how long the conditions persist to allow it to cool to these ultra-low temperatures, and a limit to how much heat you can actually get through the atmosphere because water vapor has to be almost nonexistent in order to emit heat from the surface at these temperatures,” added Scambos, according to Live Science