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Problem with new record cold temperature

Greenland and the Arctic’s temperature is rising quicker than other parts of the world, worrying onlookers as huge chunks of ice break off its glaciers and cause sea levels to rise. But it’s also the new home of the coldest temperature ever recorded in the northern hemisphere.There’s a problem with the new record: It’s from…

Greenland and the Arctic’s temperature is rising quicker than other parts of the world, worrying onlookers as huge chunks of ice break off its glaciers and cause sea levels to rise. But it’s also the new home of the coldest temperature ever recorded in the northern hemisphere.

There’s a problem with the new record: It’s from 29 years ago.

A reanalysis of temperature data conducted by “climate detectives” at the World Meteorological Organisation’s (WMO) Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes has found that an automatic weather station from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Antarctic Meteorological Research Centre recorded a temperature of -69.6C in December 1991.

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The weather station at Klinck, Greenland was designed to collect multiple forms of environmental data like air temperature, pressure, humidity and wind, which is sent via satellite back to researchers.

The climate detectives at the WMO investigate extreme climate measurements and have now verified the Greenland reading as the coldest ever on record in the northern hemisphere.

Previously the record was -67.8C, recorded in Russia at a site called Verkhoyansk in February 1892 and again at a site called Oimekon in January 1933.

Verkhoyansk has a chance to reclaim its record status as climate detectives are currently investigating a different extreme reported there: The hottest temperature ever recorded north of the Arctic Circle.

A temperature of 38C was recorded during a prolonged heatwave in June and is in the process of being verified.

Temperatures in the Arctic have been warming at a rate three times faster than the rest of the world since 1970.

The record for the coldest temperature in the world is -89.2C, recorded in July 1983 at the Russian-run Vostok weather station in Antarctica, which is almost 3500m above sea level.

University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences emeritus researcher George Weidner said it was an “important moment” for the University’s data to be accepted.

“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,” he said.

He documents the low temperature finding in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society.

Last month a chunk of ice around 113sq km in size detached from a Greenland ice shelf.

Scientists were not surprised and said this sort of thing is now “to be expected”.

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