If you are not fond of the cold and snow, every winter must feel like living in one of the coldest places in the world. The average American winter temperature in 20231 was 34.9 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, there are some bone-chilling places on the planet where humans can barely survive. Temperatures in some of the coldest places in the world can get as low as -98 °F. This article introduces 13 places competing to be the coldest spots on Earth.
Record Temperature: -144 °F (-98 °C)
In 2013, scientists discovered what they believed was the coldest temperature it could get to on Earth2. They found temperatures of -135 °F (-93 °C) on the East Antarctic Plateau using remote sensing technology.
Upon further examination of the Dome Fuji and Dome Argus area with new data, they discovered extreme temperatures of -144 ° F. They believe such temperatures are more likely during the southern polar nights in July and August.
Apart from being at the highest parts of the eastern Antarctica ice sheet, certain weather conditions must align for such low temperatures. There must be clear skies, extremely dry air, and high-speed cyclonic winds.
Record Temperature: -128.56 °F (-89.2 °C)
The Soviet Union established the Vostok Station in Antarctica in 1957. Many people still consider it to be the coldest place on Earth, as it held the record for a long time.
The station set its lowest temperature ever recorded on July 21, 1983. About 4 km feet beneath the station lies the largest subglacial lake known to humans. The lake is a popular subject of interest in the scientific community, and multiple countries have collaborated to explore it.
In December, the Vostok Station area gets about 22 hours of sunlight. But in the summer months, they experience the polar night phenomenon, which means it's dark all day.
Record Temperature: -93.3 °F (-69.6 °C)
The Klinck weather station is situated on the highest point of the Greenland ice sheet. It recorded one of the lowest temperatures ever in the northern hemisphere. Its record-breaking temperature of -93.3 °F was observed on December 22, 1991.
The Klinck station is crewless and automated, so the original project scientists archived the weather record. It was nearly 30 years later when climate historians uncovered them. Then, it was verified and made official by the World Meteorological Organization.
Snowmobiles carried everything necessary to build the Klinck station to the site.
Record Temperature: -117.0 °F (-82.8 °C)
The Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, Antarctica, is a research facility established by the United States Antarctic Programme in 19563. Roald Amundsen and Robert F. Scott, leaders of the first expeditions that reached the South Pole, received the honor of having the station named after them..
The Amundsen-Scott station qualifies as one of the coldest places on Earth thanks to a record-low temperature of -82.8 °C. The station sits high on the Antarctic plateau, about 9,306 feet above sea level. The area has six months of sunlight and another six months of total darkness.
If you are up for a snow adventure, you can visit the Amundsen-Scott station on a guided tourist expedition. It's probably the coldest place on Earth you can vacation at.
Record Temperature: -80 °F (-62 °C)
Alaska is already popular as the State with the coldest temperatures in the U.S.A. It makes sense that the lowest recorded temperature in the United States was taken at Prospect Creek in Alaska.
On January 23, 1971, a weather observer at Prospect Creek camp recorded a temperature of -80 °F. It still stands as the lowest recorded temperature in Alaska. It was displaced as the lowest in North America by an airstrip in Snag, Canada.
Perhaps due to the extreme cold, the place is no longer inhabited. But it once served as a camp for workers building the trans-Alaska pipeline system. The Arctic Circle town was also home to many mining expeditions.
Record Temperature: (-66.1 °C) (-87 °F)
The 1952-1954 British North Greenland Expedition established the North Ice research station in 1952. Commander James Simpson RN led the expedition and wrote the book, 'North Ice,' about the journey.
The expedition produced data and scientific questions still relevant in glaciology today. Other research areas were polar logistics, meteorology, polar medicine, and geological mapping. Its success also inspired many other expeditions.
On January 9, 1954, the North Ice Station recorded a temperature of -87 °F. It was the coldest temperature ever taken in the Northern Hemisphere.
Record Temperature: -99.9 °F (-73.3 °C)
Mount Denali is the tallest mountain in North America. The mountain, standing at about 20,000 feet above sea level, is the main attraction of the Denali National Park and Preserve. Denali is the third-largest national park in the United States.
Previously, people knew the mountain as Mount McKinley to honor William McKinley, a former U.S. president. But later, the authorities officially changed it back to its original name - Denali, which the Koyukon people had called it. Some people may still know it by the name Mount McKinley.
Records from a team of mountaineers that ascended Denali gave the lowest temperature recorded as -73.3 °C. It gets colder the higher one climbs.
Historic Temperature: -55 °F (-48.3 °C)
International Falls is a border town situated right along the Rainy River. It is opposite Fort Frances, Ontario, Canada. If you are wondering about the name, the town is named after a now-submerged 35-foot waterfall and boundary location.
They call this town the “Icebox of the Nation” because it has the coldest winters in the contiguous United States. The town hosts an annual festival in January called Icebox Days to celebrate the winter.
International Falls had a historic temperature of -55 °F on January 6, 1909. However, records show that a nearby town, Tower, broke International Falls' record with a temperature of -60 °F on February 2, 1996.
Record Temperature: -81 °F (-63 °C)
Canada is famous in the international community for its cold temperatures. However, some parts of Canada have stood out for their extreme temperatures in the winter months. Snag, an abandoned Canadian village in Yukon Territory, is one such place.
During the Second World War, the Department of Transport set up an emergency landing strip and a weather station in Snag.
A research station in Nunavut with an annual average temperature of -19.9 °C claims to be the coldest place in Canada. But, the lowest temperature recorded in continental North America was a reading of -81 °F (-63 °C) at Snag in 1947. It knocked out the previous record set by Prospect Creek for the coldest place in North America.
Record Temperature: -67.7 °C (-90 °F)
Home to about 500 people, Oymyakon, Russia, is one of the coldest inhabited places. The village, known as "The Pole of Cold," is characterized by year-round icy temperatures. The townsfolk are used to the extreme cold. Local news reports it must be colder than -50 °C (-58 °F), but students still attend school.
As cold as it is, Oymyakon is a popular tourist destination. Its thermal spring, a watering hole for livestock, is an attraction. Historical accounts say the village was established by reindeer herders who frequented spring.
The lowest temperature ever recorded in Oymyakon was -90 °F, taken In 1933. According to the WMO, Oymyakon ties with Verkhoyansk's record icy temperature. The Guinness World of Records declared it the coldest inhabited place.
Record Temperature: -83 °F (-63.8 °C)
Yakutsk is an eastern Siberia port city on the Lena River. It's about 450 km south of the Arctic Circle. It snows year-round in Yakutsk, so the city is essentially built on permafrost. The mining city also has abundant natural resources like diamonds, oil, and gas.
What started as a wooden fort near the Lena River is now a bustling city, home to several museums. They have the Natural History Museum, the University Museum of Archeology and Ethnography, the Museum of Mammoth, and the Fine Arts Museum.
Yakutsk is one of the coldest cities in the world. According to a CNN report, temperatures dropped to -80.9 °F (-62.7 °C) in January this year. That's just a few degrees higher than its record low temperature of -83 °F.
Average Low Temperature: -14.62 °F (-25.9°C)
Ulaanbaatar is the capital and largest city of Mongolia. At first, the city site only served as a seasonal migratory abode for the Mongolian princes. Today, it has blossomed into a city of over 1.3 million people.
Its proximity to the Tuul River and its mountains, historical sites, traditional restaurants, and modern museums makes for a scenic view. It's too bad that the air in Ulaanbaatar is one of the most polluted in Asia.
The media fondly calls Ulaanbaatar the coldest capital on Earth. Its winters are long and harsh, with average cold temperatures of -25.9°C in January.
Record Temperature: 89.7 °F (-67.6 °C)
Verkhoyansk is a town in Sakha Republic, Russia. It is located near the Arctic Circle and may be the coldest city on Earth4. There is some minor mining activity in the town for tin and gold. But we know the city better for year-round snow.
This Russian town has recorded some of the coldest temperatures in the northern hemisphere. For the entire month of January, the average temperature remains around −56 °F (−49 °C). Its record lowest temperature is around 89.7 °F.
Verkhoyansk is prone to temperature fluctuations between the summer and winter months. The warm summers can get as hot as 37.3 °C.
The temperatures of the coldest places on Earth might make the next winter feel toasty. If you are a winter sports fan or just curious, this article will help you plan your next icy vacation.
Some places mentioned, like International Falls and Ulaanbaatar, are relatively easy. Others, like Vostok, are incredibly remote and require special preparation.
If you would love future generations to know what an ice sheet looks like, let's fight climate change now.
NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information. (n.d.). Monthly National Climate Report for February 2023
AGU. (2018). Coldest Place on Earth Is Colder Than Scientists Thought. AGU Newsroom.
National Science Foundation. (n.d.). Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station
Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.
Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.
Fact Checked By:
Isabela Sedano, BEng.