The newly analysed NASA satellite data from east Antarctica shows Earth has set a new record for coldest temperature ever recorded: -94.7C.
It happened in August 2010 when it hit -94.7C (-135.8F). Then on 31 July of 2013, it came close again: -92.9C (-135.3F). The old record had been -89.2C set in 1989 at the Russian Vostok Research Station in East Antarctica.
Scientists made the discovery while analysing the most detailed global surface temperature maps to date, developed with data from remote sensing satellites including the new Landsat 8, a joint project of NASA and the US Geological Survey (USGS).
Researchers analysed 32 years' worth of data from several satellite instruments. They found temperatures plummeted to record lows dozens of times in clusters of pockets near a high ridge between Dome Argus and Dome Fuji, two summits on the ice sheet known as the East Antarctic Plateau.
The coldest permanently inhabited place on Earth is northeastern Siberia, where temperatures in the towns of Verkhoyansk and Oimekon dropped to 90 degrees below zero Fahrenheit (minus 67.8 C) in 1892 and 1933, respectively.
The quest to find out just how cold it can get on Earth - and why - started when the researchers were studying large snow dunes, sculpted and polished by the wind, on the East Antarctic Plateau.
When the scientists looked closer, they noticed cracks in the snow surface between the dunes, possibly created when wintertime temperatures got so low the top snow layer shrunk. This led scientists to wonder what the temperature range was, and prompted them to hunt for the coldest places using data from two types of satellite sensors.
The findings were presented at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco on 9 December 2013.
Antarctica is the southernmost continent on Earth and the South Pole is found in Antarctica. Antarctica is surrounded by the Southern Ocean. Most of Antarctica is covered in ice over 1.6 kilometres thick (1 mile). Around 90 percent of the ice on Earth is found in Antarctica. Antarctica, on average, is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent, and has the highest average elevation of all the continents.
When: 9 December 2013