The 10 Coldest Places in the World
Arctica and Antarctica stand out as examples of extremely frigid environments, but more temperate regions can still get quite cold.
From polar research stations to parts of Siberia, here are the world’s coldest places. These icy environments not only feature some of the harshest weather conditions on earth but are also home to some fascinating people and cultures.
1. Oymyakon and Verkhoyansk in Siberia
The world’s coldest places often share one characteristic: They are typically located near ice caps and the Arctic Circle. But these locations don’t all fall within Antarctica or North Pole boundaries – some offer unique charm like Oymyakon and Verkhoyansk in Siberia for example.
On February 6th 1933, this village of about 800 hardy inhabitants earned the dubious honor of becoming the coldest place on Earth when temperatures plunged to an unimaginably cold minus 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Dubbed “water that doesn’t freeze” upon its creation in the 1920s by reindeer herders who used the thermal spring in town as an emergency stopover during winter to water their animals at no charge.
Oymyakon lies deep within Russia, away from any bodies of water that might help moderate temperatures. Additionally, temperature inversions frequently trap cold air in its lower atmosphere – creating extreme cold in wintertime; temperatures have even reached below zero degrees! In stark contrast, Verkhoyansk experiences relatively warm summer temperatures; its location boasts some of the greatest seasonal differences on Earth.
2. Vostok Station in Antarctica
Antarctica’s climate of freezing winters and long, dark nights makes it one of the coldest places on Earth; yet it boasts some remarkable natural and cultural landmarks that draw millions to visit each year.
Vostok Station in Antarctica currently holds the world record for lowest reliably measured temperature on Earth – reaching an unbearable -89.2 degrees Fahrenheit due to extreme cold and high altitude conditions, as well as its dome-like form which means temperatures drop further with height.
An extraordinary type of person must possess special characteristics to endure living in environments with temperatures that regularly drop to freezing point. Yet there are various inhabited regions across the globe where this is the norm, from Siberia’s remote Oymyakon in Siberia to Greenland’s North Ice. Permanent Antarctic research stations like Dome Argus on Antarctic Plateau have recorded temperatures as low as -90 degrees Fahrenheit! Polar nights only compound this difficulty for those residing there full time.
3. Denali National Park in Alaska
Denali National Park lies at Alaska’s northernmost corner, where its frigid temperatures reach new heights. Home to North America’s tallest peak – Mt. McKinley – it features glacial rivers, massive peaks and tundra as well as wildlife such as grizzly bears and Dall sheep.
Winter temperatures at National Parks can fall as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. But come summer, warm days with sunny skies provide some much-needed relief, creating beautiful scenes to gaze upon.
At first glance, this region stands out as one of the world’s most incredible landscapes. No matter whether it’s your first visit or an overnight stay in the park, its breathtaking sights will surely leave an impactful impression.
Although most of the top ten coldest places on Earth can be found in polar regions, some lie closer to home – Watson Lake in Canada’s Yukon Territory is one of them and boasts an astonishing winter temperature of -48 degrees Fahrenheit! Even more extreme when taking wind chill factor into account.
4. Rogers Pass in Montana
No matter your personal winter experience level, freezing temperatures offer an unforgettable adventure. These bone-chilling locales are home to people who have learned how to adapt to the harsh conditions while providing an extraordinary opportunity for research on world climate extremes.
Russia’s Oymyakon and Verkhoyansk are two of the coldest continually inhabited places on Earth; Antarctica’s Vostok Station stands out as being among the most isolated locations. Additionally, Eismitte Ice Center of Greenland holds the record temperature low temperature record with an extremely cold minus 70 degree Fahrenheit temperature reading.
Canada boasts some of the coldest places on Earth, including Ottawa – its capital city is often listed as one of the ten coldest cities due to its long winters with snowfall covering every inch of terrain and even surrounding trails. Residents take full advantage of such frigid temperatures by skating to work along Rideau Canal or trekking across 93 miles of snow-packed trails in Ottawa.
Montana boasts one of the coldest climates in America. Rogers Pass in Montana’s western region reached temperatures as low as minus 70 degrees Fahrenheit in 1954 – this marked as being outside Alaska as its coldest ever temperature ever recorded!
5. Finnmark Plateau in Norway
Norway’s Finnmark Plateau, despite its name, is one of the coldest regions on Earth. Situated far north, this region endures long hours of darkness during polar night and boasts cold winter temperatures due to permafrost; an underground layer that stores carbon dioxide and methane frozen into frozen soil for millennia; slowly it is melting off, releasing gases that contribute to climate change.
Permafrost in this area creates some of the world’s coldest lakes, such as Watson Lake with its staggering temperature of -48degC (-60degF). Other extreme lakes near to the Arctic Circle include Mayo and Carmacks lakes.
Ellesmere Island in Canada stands out as an exceptional spot to view musk oxen in their natural environment, while its diverse topographical terrain also attracts significant numbers of Arctic wolves and polar bears.
6. Tibetan Plateau in Asia
The Tibetan Plateau is one of the coldest areas on Earth due to its high altitudes. Temperatures decrease with increasing altitude and climate conditions tend to be harsh and dry. Furthermore, air oxygen content drops as you ascend into altitude – travelers visiting this plateau must take special care not to suffer altitude sickness when visiting.
The plateau of Tibet is home to both saline and freshwater lakes. Lake Namtso, Tibet’s largest salt lake at 4,718 meters (15,420 feet), stands out among them while others notable ones are Chaerhan Salt Lake and Qinghai Lake.
Even under harsh conditions, the Tibetan Plateau remains home to numerous people. Nomadic people living at altitudes over 4,800 meters can tolerate higher altitudes more easily and their blood contains higher concentrations of nitrogen oxide which allows for improved oxygen absorption.
The Tibetan Plateau is an area of extremes, offering visitors various ways to experience it. One such way is visiting Zaisan Hill landmark in Mongolia which features a monument honoring World War II soldiers as well as providing breathtaking views. Another way is taking a ride on Qinghai-Tibet Railway which boasts some of the highest railway in the world while passing through stunning landscapes.
7. Southern Andes in South America
The Southern Andes is a region in central and South America located between the Tropic of Cancer and Capricorn that is often described as one of the coldest areas on Earth due to a combination of factors including its location, elevation and weather patterns.
As of June 2021, various regions within this region have experienced cold waves which have set new minimum temperature records and caused significant damage to agriculture. Furthermore, several people and livestock have died as a result of extreme cold.
Cold episodes are typically marked by large-scale anticyclonic patterns that can be seen on satellite images like this one below. This anticyclonic pattern leads to rapid northward transport of cold air by means of a cold-core high pressure system extending its ridge across central Argentina, pumping it into lower latitudes (see station level data in Fig 3). Furthermore, prior to an event happening a low-pressure system developed over Southern Andes that produced strong cyclonic disturbances near surface levels which further expedited transport from South Atlantic areas towards lower latitudes (Fig 4).