21.07.

1983: The Coldest Place on Earth Holds an Underground Secret

1983: The Coldest Place on Earth Holds an Underground Secret
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons/ Vostok Station

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 21 July 1983
  • The Russian polar research station Vostok in Antarctica measured the lowest natural temperature on Earth (-89.2 °C) on this day. It is interesting that the Russians were also the ones who first discovered the coldest continent – Antarctica. A huge lake is located right beneath Vostok station. It is the largest sub-glacial lake in the world and it contains water from 15 to 25 million years ago. Drillings are performed in order to obtain its water.

On this day, the lowest natural temperature ever recorded on Earth, minus 89.2 °C, was measured.

The place where this happened is called the Pole of Cold and is located on the Antarctic, on the site of the Russian polar research station Vostok. The name Vostok means East in Russian, and it originated from the name of the ship Vostok, the vessel aboard which Russian expedition discovered the Antarctic in 1820 (under the command of Lazarev and Bellingshausen).

It is interesting that the Russians were precisely the ones who first discovered the continent Antarctica. The Russian Federation still has research stations on the Antarctic, though it does not exercise sovereignty over the territory (nor does any other country in the world).

Vostok Station is one of the most isolated areas of the world, located about 1000 kilometers from the nearest coastline and near the Arctic pole of inaccessibility (a distance farthest from any land mass). The station is constantly populated and supplied. As many as 25 people stay there during the summer, while their number drops to about 13 in winter. Polar winter lasts for 3 months, during which time the sun never rises. Vostok station is located at 3,488 m above sea level.

Interestingly, a huge lake is located right beneath Vostok station. It is the largest sub-glacial lake in the world and it contains water from 15 to 25 million years ago. Drillings are performed in order to obtain its water. It is interesting that the highest temperature ever recorded at Vostok station was -12.2 °C, still well below the freezing point.

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