Commuters in northeastern US might have felt they were battling the coldest weather in the world as they trudged through snow Tuesday, but they may be warmed to know it could be far worse.
The coldest place on Earth is in fact a high ridge on the East Antarctic Plateau where temperatures plunged to a record minus 135.8 Fahrenheit (minus 93.2 Celsius) on August 10, 2010, NASA said.
The previous record was a bracing minus 128.6 Fahrenheit, set in 1983 at the Russian Vostok Research Station, also in East Antarctica, NASA said.
"We had a suspicion this Antarctic ridge was likely to be extremely cold, and colder than Vostok because it's higher up the hill," said Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado.
"With the launch of Landsat 8, we finally had a sensor capable of really investigating this area in more detail."
Scientists made the discovery while analyzing the most detailed global-surface temperature maps to date, developed with data from remote sensing satellites including the new Landsat 8, a joint project of NASA and the US Geological Survey (USGS).
The coldest places on Earth that are inhabited permanently lie in northeastern Siberia in Russia, where temperatures dived to 90 degrees below zero Fahrenheit in two towns in 1892 and 1933 respectively.