The coldest places on Earth, from a Siberian village to the wilds of Antarctica

As temperatures hit a bone-chilling −50°C in Yakutsk, we take a look at the places that have famously dipped to the lowest degrees

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Temperatures in the world's coldest city plunged to −50°C on Monday.

Residents in the city of Yakutsk in Eastern Siberia have been layering up to beat the freeze.

“You can't fight it. You either adjust and dress accordingly or you suffer,” resident Anastasia Gruzdeva told Reuters while wearing two scarves, two pairs of gloves and several hats and hoods.

Situated on a permafrost about 450km south of the Arctic Circle, Yakutsk has its coldest month every January and this year, it witnessed an extra-long cold snap. Despite that, it’s still only the eighth coldest place in the world.

From the wilderness of Antarctica to Yukon in Canada, here are 10 of the coldest observed places on Earth.

1. East Antarctic Plateau, Antarctica

Ice shelves in the eastern Antarctic. Photo: Scott Polar Research Institute

In August 2010, an eye-watering temperature of −94°C was recorded on the East Antarctic Plateau in the world's coldest continent.

It beat the previous record for the wintry region, which had stood since 1983.

However, as it was captured using remote sensing from satellites, rather than ground-based thermometers, it's often not considered to be a contender for the official world record.

2. Vostok Station, Antarctica

Vostok Station in Antarctica is in one of the coldest places on Earth, but also in one of the world’s sunniest spots. Photo: Nasa

Once topping this list, and still considered the world’s coldest place by many, the remote Vostok Station in Antarctica has an official recorded low temperature of −89.2°C, taken in 1983.

As well as being in one of the coldest places on earth, this research station also finds itself in one of the world’s sunniest spots. Every December, the region gets more than 22 hours of daily sunlight. But it’s a different story in the summertime when the polar night means there are zero hours of daylight.

3. Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, Antarctica

Amundsen-Scott South Pole is one of the world's coldest places, with −82.8°C being the lowest temperature recorded here in 1982. Photo: USAP, NSF

The Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station is one of three research stations operated by the United States Antarctic Programme and the site of the project's lowest recorded temperature.

The station is on the high plateau of Antarctica's nearly featureless ice sheet, about 2,835m above sea level. It is one of the world’s coldest places, with −82.8°C being the lowest temperature captured here in 1982.

The research hub is drifting with the ice sheet, about 10 metres each year.

4. Denali, Alaska, US

Mount Denali in Alaska is known for its brutal winters, with temperatures believed to have dipped to as low as −73°C at some point. Getty Images

Mount Denali is North America’s tallest mountain and one of the world’s coldest destinations, although its inclusion on this list might be controversial.

The third highest of the Seven Summits — the highest mountains on each of the seven continents — Mount Denali (formerly Mount McKinley) is known for its brutal winters, where temperatures are believed to have dipped to as low as −73°C at some point in history.

The data was derived from a self-recording thermometer left on the slopes in 1913 at an elevation of about 4,600 metres. While the device has been tested by the former United States Weather Bureau and found to be accurate, there are unanswered questions, as the exact date on which the temperature was captured is not verified.

Despite its bitterly cold weather, Mount Denali attracts hardy adventure-seeking tourists who flock to its slopes for Nordic skiing and mountaineering.

5. Klinck station, Greenland

A glacier calves icebergs into a fjord off the Greenland ice sheet. AP Photo / David Goldman

The coldest temperature ever recorded in the Northern Hemisphere can be traced to Klinck station on Greenland's ice sheet.

The World Meteorological Organisation officiated a biting −69.6°C temperature set at the station in December 1991. The data was captured by an automatic weather station, and was only introduced into the public domain about 30 years later.

The remote site is only reachable via snowmobile, which meant researchers had to be very careful transporting the sensitive temperature-recording equipment through very rough snow surfaces.

6. Oymyakon, Siberia, Russia

A runner takes part in the International World's coldest marathon near Oymyakon. AP

In the Republic of Sakha in Eastern Siberia, the hamlet of Oymayakon is one of the world’s coldest inhabited places. With perpetual below-zero temperatures, the village experienced peak cold levels in 1933, when meteorologists recorded a temperature of −67.7°C.

There is a monument in Oymyakon's town square commemorating an unofficial temperature from January 1924 that declared a reading of −71.2°C, but this data has not been independently verified.

Despite its year-round biting temperatures, a few hundred people call the destination home and survive on a diet largely consisting of frozen fish and reindeer meat. It's also where the world’s coldest marathon took place last year, with runners battling biting temperatures across 42km with many participants seeing their eyebrows and eyelashes freeze over.

7. North Ice, Greenland

An iceberg in Greenland, one of the coldest destinations in the Northern Hemisphere. Photo: Annie Spratt / Unsplash

The now abandoned North Ice research station in Greenland was previously thought to be the coldest destination in the Northern Hemisphere with a recorded temperature of −66.1°C taken in January 1954.

Since scientists discovered new data captured by an automatic weather station at Klinck in 1991, the site is no longer the record holder for the region, but it remains one of the world’s coldest. The station was abandoned 69 years ago.

8. Yakutsk, Siberia, Russia

A car covered in ice is pictured near a playground in Yakutsk, in the Republic of Sakha in February 2013. Reuters

Siberia's Yakutsk made headlines this week as the city hit −50°C on the thermometer and residents wrapped up to brave the cold.

Despite the chill, it's far from the coldest temperatures recorded in the Russian city that lies about 450km south of the Arctic Circle.

In 1891, it experienced a freezing −64.4°C. The Russian city takes its role as one of the world’s coldest seriously and is home to the only museum dedicated to permafrost.

9. Snag, Yukon Territory, Canada

Yukon territory in Canada is home to Snag, which set a chill-inducing record of −63.0 °C back in 1947. Photo: Unsplash / Jack Church

Canada’s coldest place when it comes to average yearly temperatures is Eureka in Nunavut, but it’s Snag on the Alaska-Yukon border that is the site of the country’s coldest-ever recorded temperature.

Nestled about 25km from Beaver Creek, Canada’s westernmost community, Snag set a chill-inducing figure of −63.0°C back in 1947.

Formerly home to an emergency landing strip during the Second World War, at the time of the record-setting temperature, the village was home to a population of about 10 First Nation locals and 20 researchers who braved its subarctic climates.

10. Prospect Creek, Alaska, US

Prospect Creek, Alaska, has had one of the lowest US temperatures ever recorded at −62.1°C. Photo: Ed Plumb / Wikimedia / edplumb.blogspot.com

Uninhabited since the early 1990s, Prospect Creek in Alaska is one of the world’s coldest destinations.

Sitting below the Arctic Circle, the tiny ghost town is home to one of the lowest US temperatures ever captured, a chilly −62.1°C documented by a weather observer in January 1971.

With its subarctic climate, the town has consistently been known for having the coldest winters in the US, and is the record holder for the lowest non-contested temperature in the continental US.

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Updated: January 17, 2023, 4:00 PM