Earth’s Northern Hemisphere has a new record cold temperature. Nearly after 30 years, the World Meteorological Organization confirms that the Northern Hemisphere in Greenland has a minus 93.2 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 69.6 Celsius).
This new data provides a benchmark for understanding weather extremes and climate change.
The measurement was first recorded by a University of Wisconsin-Madison Antarctic Meteorological Research Center Automatic Weather Station in December 1991. An AWS is a standalone instrument suite developed by UW-Madison Space Science and Engineering Center and AMRC scientists and engineers to collect numerous environmental parameters such as air temperature, pressure, humidity, wind direction, and speed.
According to George Weidner, an emeritus researcher with the UW-Madison Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, this cold temperature results from several atmospheric conditions converging in a specific way.
The coldest temperature was measured at the Klinck field site. The site is located in the middle of Greenland at an elevation of 10,170 feet (3,100 meters).
In this case, the jet stream’s elevation and splitting—which usually flows over the Greenland ice sheet—created a dead zone, allowing the already cold region to continue losing heat from the Earth. Similar conditions occur over Canada and result in the famed (or infamous) “polar vortex,” which produces extreme cold that reaches the U.S.
- George Weidner et al. WMO evaluation of northern hemispheric coldest temperature: −69.6 °C at Klinck, Greenland, 22 December 1991, Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society (2020). DOI: 10.1002/qj.3901