The world’s attention has centered recently on the effects of heat and drought in places across the northern hemisphere. Most countries in Europe posted record highs this summer. The mercury reached 104 degrees Fahrenheit in London. Unfortunately, many buildings in the city are not air-conditioned.
The problem in the United States is just as severe. States in the northwest saw record highs, which extended as far east as Minnesota. The southwestern United States, including parts of central California, Utah and Nevada, are in the midst of a 1,200-year drought. It began several years ago and shows no sign of ending. Water in the region has become scarce as sources, including the Colorado River, carry less water than at any time in centuries. Cities as large as Phoenix face the specter of whether they will be habitable in a few decades.
These records draw attention away from the fact that temperatures in some parts of the world often drop below minus 100 degrees. Almost all these are far inland in Antarctica, where elevations reach above 5,000 feet. While ice is melting around Antarctica’s coasts, which will cause global coastal flooding, the ground is permanently frozen hundreds of miles inland.
The coldest place in the world currently is Concordia, in Antarctica, where the temperature is minus 105 degrees. In fact, the 15 coldest places in the world now are on this continent. The Concordia Research Station was set up by French and Italian scientists in 2005. It is one of several such facilities set up by countries that want to monitor conditions in the region.
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Like many of these weather stations, Concordia is on the Antarctic Plateau, where mountains are often above 10,000 feet high, which pushes temperatures even lower. Concordia can be reached by plane, and it has a settlement of just a few people, most of whom are climate experts.
When human body temperature drops below 70 degrees, international organs shut down. After a brief period of body temperatures this low, no one can survive. It is the reason almost no one lives on the Antarctic Plateau.
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