Temperatures in Antarctica hit a record low of minus 93 degrees Celsius in August 2010, according to scientists.
Researchers made the discovery while analysing 32 years of global surface temperatures that were recorded by satellites.
They found that a high ridge in the East Antarctic Plateau contains pockets of trapped air that dipped as low as minus 93 Celsius in August of 2010, researchers said at the annual American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco on Monday.
The previous record low was minus 89.2 degrees Celsius and was documented in 1983 at the Russian Vostok Research Station in East Antarctica.
“We had a suspicion this Antarctic ridge was likely to be extremely cold, and colder than Vostok because it’s higher up the hill,” Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado said in a statement.
The super-cold temperatures occur when air is caught and held for a while. If the skies are clear for a few days, the ground radiates remaining heat into space, creating a layer of super-chilled air above the snow.
“By causing the air to be stationary for extended periods, while continuing to radiate more heat away into space, you get the absolute lowest temperatures we’re able to find,” Scambos said.
The temperatures are about 10 degrees Celsius colder than anything recorded in Alaska or Siberia.
This research grew out of studies of snow dunes. Scientists noticed cracks in the snow and wondered if the top layer of snow was shrinking.