World Weather/Climate Extremes Website

World: Lowest Temperature

Record Value -89.2°C (-128.5°F)
Date of Record 21/7/1983
Length of Record 1912-present
Instrumentation Presumably Maximum/Minimum Thermometer in Standard Stevenson Screen
Geospatial Location Vostok, Antarctica [77°32'S, 106°40'E, elevation: 3420m (11,220ft)]

From Dr. Stephen Warren, University of Washington (8/22/2007): The world record for low temperature was set at Vostok Station, Antarctica, on 21 July 1983. Cerveny et al. (2007) give this temperature as -89.4°C in their Table 2, quoting Krause and Flood (1997), who gave the same value. However, the actual reported temperature was -89.2°C, as shown in the logbook of monthly summaries (Figure 1), which I photographed at the Vostok weather office in January 1991. The error in Krause and Flood (1997) was probably the result of a conversion from Celsius to Fahrenheit and rounding to -129°F, then back-conversion to Celsius.

References

Krause and Flood, 1997: Weather and Climate Extremes, US Army Corps of Engineers Topographic Engineering Centerpp. 89; Information Bulletin of the Soviet Antarctic Expedition (No. 105)

Discussion

This record was confirmed by the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute at Leningrad (St. Petersburg), Russia. Extreme cold resulted from absence of solar radiation, clear skies, little vertical mixing, calm air for a long duration and the station's high elevation.

Previous Record

-88.3°C (-127°F), 24/8/1960 at Vostok Foreign Branch, 1968: Worldwide extremes of temperature, precipitation and pressure recorded by continental ara, U.S Dept. of Commerce; Environmental Sciences Services Administration pp. 4

Additional Images

Vostok, Antarctica

Vostok, Antarctica
Vostok, Antarctica

Closeup Satellite Image of Modern Vostok Station

Vostok, Anatarctica

Regional Satellite Image of Modern Vostok Station