Coldest Northern Hemisphere temperature, first recorded by UW, officially confirmed


Research News

MADISON, Wis. — Nearly 30 years after recording a temperature of minus 93.2 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 69.6 Celsius) in Greenland, the measurement has been verified by the World Meteorological Organization as the coldest recorded temperature in the Northern Hemisphere.

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. The information is then relayed via satellite back to SSEC in near real time.

Over time, these data have come to provide a benchmark for understanding weather extremes and climate change.

“The more data you have, the more you can understand what’s going on globally, and make important political and environmental decisions related to climate change,” says George Weidner, emeritus researcher with the UW-Madison Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. “It is also an important moment for the AWS systems in that their data are being accepted as official records.”

Weidner is the lead author on a new paper published in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society this month that documents the low temperature finding.

In 2007, the WMO created an online archive of weather and climate extremes around the globe, helping to set benchmarks for future climate research. Other measurements include record high temperatures, wind speeds, and the impact of tropical cyclones, including the deadliest in history.

Extreme measurements like that in Greenland undergo a rigorous review process to make sure they are accurate and there is agreement with other meteorological data and weather forecast models. Due to the quality and preservation of the AWS station data provided by the Antarctic Meteorological Research Center, the WMO was able to verify the 1991 temperature and log it as part of the official record.

According to Weidner, this cold temperature was the result of several atmospheric conditions converging in a specific way.

The Klinck field site, where the coldest temperature was measured, is located in the middle of Greenland at an elevation of 10,170 feet (3,100 meters). Extreme cold air temperatures can occur when there is little wind to disturb an area, accompanied by clear skies.

In this case, the elevation and a splitting of the jet stream — 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.

For more than 40 years, the network of more than 60 Automatic Weather Station sites has helped provide real-time data for scientists in extreme places like Antarctica and Greenland and has helped build a more complete picture of changes in Earth’s climate. In March 2017, the WMO confirmed some of the warmest ever recorded temperatures in Antarctica and used data from AMRC’s AWS network to help verify these measurements.


This work is supported by the National Science Foundation.

From EurekAlert!

67 thoughts on “Coldest Northern Hemisphere temperature, first recorded by UW, officially confirmed

        • I don’t know, I got a bit late here, but I can guess and will stay clear. Talking about the cold, the BBC said “Parts of UK last night shivered in -3.7C – the coldest temperatures on record for the time of year’.
          Now hear this:
          Scientists from Harvard and the Climate Change Institute have made a discovery that sheds a whole new light on the period of the First World War. They say that a strange climate anomaly occurred between 1914 and 1918, which they say was the indirect culprit for the huge number of war victims because Europe was hit by a wave of Extremely Cold Weather with a lot of rain.
          Surprise, surprise; cold weather is bad for you.
          Going back to the sun, but this time on a more serious note: WWI was the time of SC15 which was relatively strong, but wait for it, was preceded by the SC14 minimum the deepest solar minimum in the last 200 years.
          So how does the current minimum compare?
          Sorry, it is a bad news, we need only three more months of the sunspot count in single figures and we are there i.e. SC24 min will be as long as the SC14 minimum.

          Cold weather of the early years of this decade might not be as cold as the WWI years but the Northern Hemisphere warming is over for time being.

      • It may be rubbish, but your video does not prove that. I listened to it. It is simply 25 minutes of ad hominem attacks without one single intelligible bit of evidence that establishes the error of Thunderbolts. You can do better Steven.

      • Good video, with some guidance that is broadly applicable. For example at ~21 minutes, the two camps of pseudoscience are described. “People who delude themselves into thinking they are doing real science” is unfortunately very much a part of “climate science” today. The second camp, “people knowingly pushing a hoax to make money and earn status,” well that also describes a large fraction of activists and “climate scientists.”

        There are reasons why people are loathe to look into a mirror.

      • Thornhill is joker who happily dismisses Einstein as being wrong, in very unflattering ways, without raising any concrete criticism or attempting to disprove anything he said in a credible scientific manner. He attempts to explain gravity as an electric dipole effect in a very sketchy and unconvincing kind of way.

        The Saphire project has a web site with a contact page. Since I have some professional experience with developing this kind of low pressure plasma equipment I was very interested in taking a closer look. I left a message asking for details of their claimed “papers” and research results.

        I’m still waiting for a reply. I guess they’re too busy.

        They have a new video out claiming net energy output but it really does not go into any more detail than simply making that claim nor of how that is done or what they consider to be the origin of this energy.

        The temperatures they claim to measure inside a room temperature apparatus ( like 360,000 K ) suggests, as reported, that they do not even know what the word means.

        They also claim to be able to “return” nuclear waste to its original “basic” elements which suggests they know next to nothing about nuclear fission either.

        I still think the plasma experiments look pretty interesting but their energy claims do have all the hallmarks of a scam, but with all the money sloshing around for “clean energy” projects, they probably merit funding more than of lot of cynical con artists around.

        Now if the presenter of this “debunk” video could be equally incisive about climate science, I’d be a lot more inclined to take him seriously, instead of him looking like a gatekeeper of the orthodoxy. If you want to make a mission out of denouncing scientific fraaawd, snake oil salesmen and unsubstantiated claims, climatology is ground zero.

        If he is lamenting the growing mistrust of the lay population towards science it is in a large degree because of the disgraceful misconduct revealed in Climategate, the disgusting whitewash coverups pretending to investigate and “exonerate” the main perpetrators and total silence from the rest of the scientific community on this scandal.

        If other fields had denounced what was going on in climatology and told them to get their act together, instead of remaining in an embarrassing silence for fear that someone may take a closer look at their own field of study, we may be in a very different place today.

        BTW, calling dark matter nonbaryonic matter does not get around the problem that it is nothing but a frig factor in an equation. Calling it fairy dust would be equally suitable.

        • Epidemiologists have not done much this year to inspire public confidence in academic experts either. But I guess everyone who does not like the govt. destroying their lives and killing their grandparents is just pandering to their anti-establishment tendencies.

          Anyone suggesting gain of function experiments in virology are insanely dangerous are just flat earthers.

          • Greg
            Even before the pandemic, it was widely known that only about half of published medical research could be duplicated.

    • The quality of SAFIRE engineering and marketing is at least an order of magnitude greater than that of the Randall Mills and Andrea Rossi scams. While Mills and Rossi produce childish videos and use components and equipment consisting of items purchased from a hardware store and Amazon (e.g., home kitchen scales), the SAFIRE team is using actual scientific and engineering equipment and tools.

      If their claims were serious and true, they would create material samples in the gram scale so that independent quantitative chemical measurements could be made. The microscale chemical analyses that they report are subject to too many artifacts from contamination and too easily manipulated to provide fake results.

      • IMO, it’s all a facade. While they may want protect IP of their discoveries, you need to produce credible detail not just claim you are getting net energy out with nothing more than a power point slide as justification.

        As they say, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. They claim atomic transformation in a way never seen before and net energy production produced by a new process. They provide zero evidence of that happening. Just assertions.

          • dearieme
            “But quite illogical.
            How about expanding on the claim rather than expecting everyone to just accept your assertion?

          • Extraordinary claims require clear, convincing evidence, not opaque arguments.

            I’m not a nuclear scientist, but E=MC^2 is a lot more convincing than any spoken argument.

        • Excellent points. It’s saddening that many people are gullible and so easily persuaded by what amounts to a movie production. On the other hand, our ability to enjoy and appreciate stories is rooted in our ability to imagine the impossible, at lease temporarily for most.

        • re: “As they say, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. ”

          Mills is there with the supporting evidence. Don’t blame him if YOU don’t understand the many lab tests/results demonstrating the phenom … we are well past these junior high arguments of ‘low’ stature …

      • re: “The quality of SAFIRE engineering and marketing is at least an order of magnitude greater than that of the [sic] Randall Mills”

        Idiot; Again, you know NOT of what you speak (and write.)

        We have been through this before. Don’t be stupid.

        20 plus years of SOLID research supports Dr. Mills and his work.

        (Skissor ‘popping off’ before engaging brain)

  1. Fake!
    In Oymyakon the coldest ever measured was -96.2°F in January of 1926.
    This is even in a small village, not some mountain top in the middle of nowhere.


    Anyway, the cold fake news is a welcome counter to the countless hot fake news.

    • I have been told that it was -60F Jan 26 1917 in the Peace River district the night my father was born in a sod house. Water was delivered in a tank pulled by oxen – I have always wondered how they kept the tank liquid. Shortly thereafter, they headed east when my grandmother’s health broke down. She eventually raised 5 of the 6 babies born, washing clothes on a washboard. The first luxury was a hand turned wringer. Her proudest possession was the wringer washing machine which I remember as a 1940’s model still in use in 1965: for her, the ultimate luxury.

  2. December 1991 was indeed very cold in the Arctic. 5th coldest December since records began in 1978, according to UAH lower troposphere satellite data.

    • So 40 years to verify a cold record, and any record hot reading is globally distributed as fact within 24 hours.

      • Davis A
        I’m amazed that in 40 years those pesky government bureaucrats with science degrees were not able to “adjust” and “readjust” that cold temperature warmer. They are slipping. Probably can’t get good help there in the goobermint. The cooling trend from 1940 to 1975 is gradually being “adjusted” away. And remember the US “Dust Bowl” in the 1930s? When they get done “adjustin'” that baby, it will be the “Snow Bowl”.

  3. “…a splitting of the jet stream – which usually flows over Greenland – created a dead zone…”. Don’t go there. Nothing to see. Move along. However, amazing that this data got eventually presented to the public!

  4. Er…. I suspect that the story is not that this was the ‘coldest measured’, but that it was the ‘coldest measured, checked, double-checked and accredited according to a specific protocol’…..

    • They are still working on old photographic evidence taken in 1793 of a thermometer in Greenland. The temperature reading clearly shows -275.14836C, demonstrating just how much CO2 has warmed the climate in the subsequent decades. EurekAlert! reported that sources close to the WMO predict it will be announced in the next few weeks. “We just need to confirm it with a few more tweaks of the climate models. That’s an unusually cold reading after all, equating to almost -2K. But it agrees with all our preconceptions, so only climate deniers would, well you know, deny it. The trend is worse than we thought.” The EurekAlert! press release went on to explain that the warming trend shows signs of accelerating since 1991. Recent temperatures measured in Death Valley, CA, (the closest available instrument record to central Greenland), cause scientists to warn that oceans may begin to boil in the early 2030s if Trump is not defeated.

  5. Not understanding that the equipment in question becomes less accurate the further from 57°F you go, the WMO is full of shit and incompetent.

    No study was done, no time machine went back, no corroborating evidence provided.

    This is literally exactly the same as that “record high” that turned out to be a truck illegally parked beside the station in France.

    Incompetent and unscientific. Declaring sporadic anecdotal extremes to be facts isn’t science OR math.

    • “Not understanding that the equipment in question becomes less accurate the further from 57°F you go, the WMO is full of shit and incompetent.”

      Not sure what sensor they use, but I assume it Pt100Ω with a small fan in the instrument housing. Yes, Pt100Ω is not totally linear, but is easily compensated for using automatic table lookup conversion for linearization.
      You would use a three wire connection from sensor to electronics and well calibrated resistor bridge and a high resolution A/D converter. From there it is simple everyday transmission of digital data.
      Depending on the production quality of the sensor, bridge and A/D converter, this particular system has a very good long term stability. There could be a slight drift, but this drift would tend to be near linear over time and can thus be compensated for, in conjunction with yearly or decadal calibration checks.

      • The sensor being used is not the only factor in the uncertainty associated with a measurement device. If I remember correctly the ARGO buoy sensors have a +/- 0.5deg uncertainty even with the type sensor you mention.

      • Pt100 Rtds drift over time, usually to the high side. A sensor not recalibrated on a regular basis should not be considered accurate. A three wire sensor is actually 2 sensors averaged, slows the drift doesn’t stop it. The more extremes the sensors go through the faster the drift.

        • “A three wire sensor is actually 2 sensors averaged” – strange!

          All my life working with 3-wire systems, the three wires were in place to compensate/measure the resistance in the wire.
          You can obviously have two identical sensors to verify each other, sort of; but that has nothing to do with 3-wire.

        • A platinum resistance thermometer (PRT) is one strand of very pure platinum wire connected to both a voltmeter and an ammeter. To save space, the Pt wire is coiled and encapsulated. The expensive PRTs are strung on mica holders and encased in quartz. On a three-wire configuration, one end of the platinum wire has two leads, and the other has one lead. The voltage drop is measured across the platinum wire using one set of wires and a very high resistance voltmeter. Basically, the voltage is measured with no amperage, so the reading is only the voltage drop across the wire, and not along the leads. The amperage (usually one to three milliamps) is measured via the second lead. The third lead is shared in this case. I always use four-wire PRTs. PRTs almost always drift in the positive direction because vibration and shocks introduce strain into the carefully annealed platinum wire, and increase its resistance. NIST uses a calibration and conversion from resistance to temperature scheme which uses the ratio of the measured resistance to the measured resistance of the thermometer at the triple point of water. This is because while the resistance at the triple point of water may slowly change, this affects the whole curve uniformly and is removed using this technique (search IT-90 for details). To verify that the probe is still in calibration, just set it in a stirred ice-point apparatus, or a triple-point cell. This will give a reference value to compare with the last time it was calibrated. PRTs are much more stable than thermocouples and thermistors. I’ve used them for about 35 years, all varieties and accuracy levels from cheap to NIST primary reference quality.

  6. My brain is being fried though so meticulously slowly and imperceptibly that it strangely feels kind of cool, at least subjectively in my experience. There are probably many other brains that are being fried out there that may instead be kind of cool rather than a possible subjective frog pro fry temperature index. 🙂

  7. Extreme measurements like that in Greenland undergo a rigorous review process to make sure they are accurate and there is agreement with other meteorological data and weather forecast models.

    It’s always models with these people.

    • Checking data with models?
      That represents rejection of the scientific method “with extreme predjudice”.
      That tells you all you need to know about contemporary climate “science” (actually climate credence).

      • I’m thinking that you can’t check data with a model, but you can verify your hunch that it was not expected.

      • P.S. Questioning the accuracy of unexpected temps but passively accepting temps that fit expectations is a form of cherry-picking.

    • Just lowering the past to slightly decrease the median which in turn makes the warming of today even more perilous by a few thousandths

  8. 30 years? are you kidding me?

    It took 30 years for this to be confirmed…yet hey, hottest ever gets reported immediately. Go figure.

  9. No mention then of record temperatures across Siberia from May through to September?

    And yes I know that you are going to needlessly dispute that new all time record, but I’m talking about the high temperatures and average recorded across the whole region…

      • Yes yes… but in a comment below all that, I see:

        Not sure what the alarm is, all these things have happened all my life in the NE United States. Continental weather is stormy, whether in Asia or North America.

        Minnesota commonly has days of 18c swings, and events with 26c swings in 24h (1896) as far back as records. Golf ball summer hail is common here, and once in a while abnormally cold rains or rarely, snow. Even NYC, buffered by the Atlantic coast, has 23c swings (1978, before GW).

        Don’t alarm yourself: India, Queensland, or Arkansas may not see this, but inside the continent, it’s been going on centuries.

        Jon, Buffalo
        10/08/2017 20:39 “

    • Oh and don’t let Griff read the date of the article.
      I chose that one to emphasize that records are set all over the world at any time in history.
      But, that sells newspapers and click-money.

    • And at the same time Siberia was setting new daily high temp records, the states in the North Central US were setting new daily cold temp records and weren’t mentioned. So what’s your point Griff?

      BTW you think there was a meteorological reason for those temp records occurring during the same period? Of course not. Because you know nothing about weather patterns.

    • Why do you forget the lot of cold records ?
      Groundfrost in Germany during July, August and September on several days, snow in several region of Germany in September, now unusual cold and snow in Australia, lot of cold records in many US regions.
      And you push you up with some not unusual warm days in Siberia ?
      Thats, as usual, laughable, griff ! 😀

      • Krishna Gans

        If there is one here who’s pushing up little bits of ground frost in Germany, then that’s you!

        Look at this table below, Goose, you see there that for ALL German places, the departure from the mean of 1981-2010 is positive:

        Here is the top of the sorted list:

        Pirmasens 17.0 4.1
        Tholey 17.3 3.8
        Weinbiet 16.7 3.4
        Bad Bergzabern (Südpfalz) 18.3 3.3
        Bad Kreuznach (an der Nahe) 17.8 3.2
        Hahn 16.0 3.2
        Bad Marienberg 15.3 3.1
        Michelstadt-Vielbrunn 16.5 3.1
        Berus 17.3 3.0
        Deuselbach 16.4 3.0
        Feldberg 11.3 3.0
        Hoherodskopf 14.3 3.0
        Alzey 17.2 2.9
        Großer Arber 10.7 2.9
        Trier 17.1 2.9
        Geisenheim 17.7 2.8
        Kahler Asten 12.9 2.8
        Schmücke 12.4 2.8
        Stätten 15.3 2.8
        Wasserkuppe 13.0 2.8
        Freudenstadt 14.6 2.7
        Öhringen 17.1 2.7
        Fichtelberg 10.8 2.6
        Neuhaus 13.1 2.6
        Rheinau (Ortenau. Baden) 17.5 2.6

        85 of these 188 places show a departure of at least 2.0 C…

        As usual, you show us here a completely distorted view of Germany.

        J.-P. D.

    • Or the FREEZING cold during winter in the same place

      100F in Fort Yukon 1900,, so, if measurement accuracy is taken into account

      basically ZERO warming in 100 years.

      You FOOL yourself as always, griffool.

  10. Nearly 30 years? What kind and how much data must be reviewed for that? Sounds like someone managed to stretch it out and make a whole career out of that project!

    • They were waiting to send an expedition to the mountain top to see if the sensor needed recalibration, but apparently never did.

  11. “ ‘The more data you have, the more you can understand what’s going on globally, and make important political and environmental decisions related to climate change,’ says George Weidner, emeritus researcher with the UW-Madison Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. “ He doesn’t care that having good data will help you advance the science only the politics

    • If they really cared about having more data they would have enough certified weather stations on this globe that they wouldn’t have to interpolate the temperature for massive areas as they do now.

      • Bingo, and at a fraction of the price which is currently being wasted on climate models, and supposedly renewable energy projects. Nations are wasting many billions of dollars instead of wisely spending millions of dollars to improve the data collection systems which monitor weather.

  12. As I write this there is only a single weak tropical depression in the Pacific. The rest of the globe is completely clear of any tropical storm activity. The African wave train has completely shut down. Of course this won’t last but this is remarkable for this time of year. In about 2 weeks expect the Caribbean and the western Pacific basins to fire up. Those in Florida and along the gulf coasts are not out of the woods yet this season by any means. Some of the most powerful hurricanes on record formed in the Caribbean late in the season.

  13. The F – Frightening & Fearsome temperature numbers be it for very cold or very hot are too scary for American millennials, not to mention us Europeans who don’t understand or don’t remember them.
    The C – Cosy & Comfortable temperature numbers may be subliminally preferable to the Americans scared by the heat waves or hypothermia.
    “The lowest natural temperature ever directly recorded at ground level on Earth is −89.2 °C (−128.6 °F) at the Soviet Vostok Station in Antarctica on 21 July 1983 by ground measurements.
    The highest registered air temperature on Earth is 56.7 °C (134.1 °F) recorded in Furnace Creek Ranch, California, located in the Death Valley desert in the United States, on 10 July 1913”.
    Now you see what I mean.

  14. 26 Sept: ABC Australia: Snow blankets central Victoria as Ballarat records coldest September day in more than 50 years
    By Sarah Jane Bell
    Victorians have been left shivering by an Antarctic blast that swept across the state, bringing significant snowfalls and the coldest September day in more than half a century to the regional city of Ballarat…

    Ms Bradbury said a strong cold front had brought the cold airmass across Victoria overnight and a post frontal trough had increased the snow activity.
    “We’ve had snow reported as low as around 200 metres at locations such as Lismore, Mortlake and Ararat,” she said…

    27 Sept: UK Express: BBC Weather: Arctic storms grip UK in record-breaking freeze as temperature plummet to -4C
    FREEZING Arctic storms will sweep across the UK next week, after record-breaking cold temperatures this weekend saw UK regions fall to just -4C.
    Temperatures plummeted to -5C overnight on Thursday this week – the coldest September night in 23 years.
    On Friday morning, residents in Leeds woke up to snowfall.
    Last night, Northern Ireland saw its coldest night on record, with temperatures dropping to -4C – with the previous lowest temperature in the region registered at -3.6C…
    Temperatures plummeted to -5C overnight on Thursday this week – the coldest September night in 23 years…

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