Think of a warm, sandy beach on the shores of a tropical island. You’re relaxing in a hammock under the shade of a huge palm tree. The temperature is over 100° F, but the cool breeze off the ocean makes it feel perfect in the shade.

Now what would be the exact opposite of that mental picture? Perhaps freezing under a dozen blankets while the wind howls mercilessly outside your igloo in the middle of an ocean of ice and snow?

The Earth is a large planet. Some areas experience extreme temperatures. Have you ever wondered where on Earth it gets the coldest?

If you want to go to the coldest place on Earth, just head south…all the way south! The continent of Antarctica can boast that it’s the coldest, driest and windiest continent on Earth. It also happens to have the highest average elevation of any continent.

Located almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle, Antarctica is Earth’s southernmost continent. It contains the South Pole and is surrounded by the Southern Ocean.

Approximately 98% of Antarctica is covered in ice that’s almost a mile thick. Because it averages only about eight inches of precipitation each year, Antarctica is considered a desert. Did you ever think that a desert could be covered in ice?

The cold temperatures and overall climate of Antarctica make it a difficult place to live. In fact, there are no permanent human residents of Antarctica. Throughout any given year, though, there are usually somewhere between 1,000-5,000 people living on Antarctica in research stations while they conduct scientific experiments.

So how cold does it get in Antarctica? Very cold! The coldest temperature on Earth ever recorded was -128.6° F at the Russian Vostok Station in Antarctica on July 21, 1983. How cold is that? It’s about 20° F colder than subliming dry ice!

Throughout the year, Antarctica’s temperatures can vary drastically. In winter, temperatures can reach as low as -112° F and below. In the summer near the coast, temperatures can rise as high as almost 60° F.

Despite these low temperatures, a big health issue year-round in Antarctica is sunburn. It’s true! The snow and ice reflect almost all of the ultraviolet light that falls on the surface of Antarctica, so sunscreen is a must-have all throughout the year.

If you’re wondering where the coldest permanently-inhabited place on Earth is, it’s Oymyakon in the Siberia area of Russia. Oymyakon has an annual average temperature of just 3° F. The coldest month — January — boasts an average temperature of -51° F.

Oymyakon, which sits about 200 miles south of the Arctic Circle, is home to over 200,000 people. Schools there only close when the temperature dips below -61° F. Some people leave their vehicles running all day long to make sure they’re drivable when they need them!

 

119 Join the Discussion

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars  (17 votes, avg. 4.71 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...
  1. Dear Wonderopolis,
    Whats up Wonderers? This was a “cool” wonder!
    I thought the coldest place on earth was Mount Everest. Looks like I was wrong! Well, thats okay. I think tomorrow’s wonder will be about geese. Peace! Hey, I made a rhyme…

    -YuGiOhNinja

    • We think your rhyme is AWESOME, YuGiOhNinja, and we think YOU are awesome for being the first person to comment on today’s CHILLY Wonder of the Day®! Thanks for taking a guess about tomorrow’s Wonder, too! :-)

  2. Dear Wonderopolis,

    What a great wonder today! We already knew Antarctica was the coldest place in the world. We learned in class just yesterday the coldest temperature ever recorded. We also know about the animals that live there. Can’t wait to see tomorrow’s wonder.

    • Happy Friday, Mrs. Miller’s 2nd Grade! Thank you all so much for sharing what you know about the coldest place on earth! We think a nice mug of hot cocoa with lots of mini marshmallows is in order after exploring today’s Wonder of the Day®! What do you think? :-)

  3. I am guessing that tomorrow’s wonderopolis will be about healthy eating! That would be a cool wonder of the day! Also, a cool wonder of the day would be about ballet. I have done ballet for 9 years. This was a very informative wonder of the day! Thanks!

    • Thank you for visiting Wonderopolis today, Emma! We really appreciate your comment and we bet you are an AMAZING ballet dancer! Nine years is an impressive amount of time to devote to learning dance…we’re proud of you! :-)

  4. Hey Wonderopolis, nice topic. I didn’t think that Antarctica was the coldest place on earth. I thought it was the north pole or the south pole. But, anyway, I do sometimes think I’m at the Himalayas. But yes, I do believe that someday I will go there. Or maybe just Florida, well Florida is my backup plan. Anyway, to the topic kinda. This was the coolest topic so far I can’t wait for tomorrow. Just I got to remind myself to bring home my notebook. Oh yes, I think tomorrow’s Wonder of the day is going to be about Aflac. Or no, just joking, but it is probably going to be about geese. Okay, I will see you guys later. Bye.

    • Thanks for leaving us another awesome, cool, groovy, great, amazing comment, Austin! We’re so glad you’re a Wonder Friend…you make us smile with your humor and your wit! Thanks for sharing that you you want to visit the Himalayas and Florida. Those are two completely different types of places, but they BOTH have awesome opportunities to learn, explore, and have FUN! :-)

  5. This story reminds us of the cold weather we had last year, but the temperatures were nothing compared to what the temperatures are in Antarctica! Some people say it would not be advised to go swimming there, but maybe you could go ice skating if you bundled up real good!

    • We really like your comment, Mrs. Newland’s Class! Thanks so much for sharing your personal connection to this Wonder. We haven’t had much cold weather here in Wonderopolis this year, but we can remember a few times when it was REALLY cold! :-)

  6. Burrrr, it’s cold alright it’s the south pole. Penguins live in the south pole. Penguins are birds that can’t fly. They can slide on their bellies. Thanks for the freezing wonder.

  7. Dear Wonderopolis,
    OMG, thank you! You combined my guess of snowflakes and penguins! Yeah! I think tomorrow’s wonder is about the ocean.
    XOXOXOXOXO,
    Paige ;)

    • We thought you might enjoy today’s Wonder, Paige! Thank you for being such a great Wonder Friend and letting us know! :-)

  8. I used to think you wouldn’t put sunscreen on in Antarctica. But, once I heard that sunburn was a problem, I realized it would hurt to have sunburn and be cold at the same time. This makes me think that penguins must have special protection to not get sunburned like we do. How do the penguins do it?

    • That’s a super guess, Jesus! We’ll all have to check back and visit tomorrow’s Wonder to see if your guess is correct! :-)

    • You’re right, Kalea! What a COOL fact! Thank you for sharing what you learned by exploring today’s Wonder of the Day®! :-)

  9. Dear Wonderopolis,

    I think tomorrow’s wonder of the day is about a goose!!!
    I really liked this Wonder!! I learned that Antarctica’s temperatures can get to -100 degrees!! Wow! I wonder how long can a person go in Antarctica with only sweatpants, a sweatshirt, and a really heavy coat!

    –Hannah from Team Turner

    • Thanks for WONDERing a bit more about today’s Wonder and sharing your question, Hannah! We don’t think a person would last very long standing outside in Antarctica with just those clothes on! People who live where the weather is super cold and harsh have to take special precautions to dress warmly and layer their clothing! Happy Friday! :-)

  10. Dear WONDEROPOLIS,

    We had a lot of WOW moments as we read this WONDER of the day! We go outside for recess only when the temperature/wind chill is ABOVE 32 degrees. We can’t imagine going to school when the temperature is -60 degrees!!! We WONDER how kids can go out in -61 degree weather and be safe? Our prediction for tomorrow’s WONDER of the day is it is about geese.

    TEAM CAISSE :)

    • That’s another GREAT prediction, Team Caisse! You guys sure are smart about using your clues! We WONDER the same kinds of things about people who live in extreme environments. But, then we remember that those types of temperatures might be all those people have ever known, so they just live their outside lives like they always have! We bet they can find LOTS of fun things to do outside and we also bet they know just how to dress to keep warm! Thank you for helping us WONDER more about today’s Wonder of the Day®, too! YOU GUYS ROCK! :-)

  11. Hi there, Kalea and Breeghan! You guys are AWESOME for exploring today’s Wonder and letting us know you learned that Antarctica is the coldest place on Earth! Way to go! :-)

    • Hello, Kaitlyn! We’re so happy that you love Wonderopolis! It makes us happy when we hear that from our Wonder Friends! :-)

  12. I really enjoy your videos. They are really good. We just found your website 2 or 3 days ago and everyday in school we go on this website. Can you wonder about monkeys?

    • Thanks for stopping by Wonderopolis today, Caroline! We’re glad you and your classmates visit every day…that’s AWESOME! We think a future Wonder about monkeys is a great idea, thank you for suggesting it! :-)

    • The next Wonder of the Day® is always a surprise here in Wonderopolis, Kailey! We WONDER what tomorrow’s might be, too! :-)

    • Welcome to Wonderopolis, Antonio! We’re sure glad you stopped by today and learned some fun new facts about Antarctica! :-)

  13. Hi, Kaitlyn here. I wonder what is tomorrow? I love going on this website, I think this is fun. I like today’s wonder it is AMAZING!!!

    • It makes us super happy to hear that you love hanging out in Wonderopolis and also that you thought today’s Wonder was AMAZING, Kaitlyn! Thank you for letting us know that! :-)

    • Hi there, Johnathan! You’re RIGHT! Thank you for leaving us this great comment to let us know you visited today’s Wonder of the Day®! :-)

  14. Hey wonderopolis, how are you doing? I think the coldest place on earth is Alaska. I will go with Antarctica, too.

    • We’re doing very well, Dominque, thank you so much for asking! We think parts of Alaska are really cold, too! We’re glad you stopped by today’s Wonder and left us this super comment! :-)

    • Hi, Rayden! We think it’s GREAT that you try to visit Wonderopolis when you can! We’re always here if you get some extra time and want to learn some new things! :-)

    • We think you rock, too, Tyler! Thanks for being an AWESOME Wonder Friend and letting us know what you like about Wonderopolis! :-)

    • It’s true, Maxini…Antarctica IS the coldest place on Earth! Thank you for suggesting your idea for a Wonder of the Day® about Harry Potter…we appreciate it! :-)

  15. I like wonderopolis a lot. I like trying to
    guess the answers to your wonders.
    Everyday, the teacher pulls it up and
    reads the wonder to us. We write about
    what we think the answer is if we want to.
    Your next wonder should be about monkeys.

    • Hmmmmm. We’ve had TWO requests for a Wonder about monkeys today, Maddie! You’re the second Wonder Friend to suggest it! We think it’s a GREAT idea!

      Thank you for sharing that you visit Wonderopolis at school. We think your teacher ROCKS for sharing Wonderopolis with you, and we think you and your classmates ROCK for wanting to learn new things! :-)

  16. Wondering! what is the temperature like in Antarctica today when we here in PA had 59F.
    What changes are happening temperature wise at south pole….Wondering!

    • That’s a GREAT question, Rickii! We’re not sure what the temperature is in Antarctica today, but we ARE sure that it’s super, super COLD! Thank you for WONDERing even more about this Wonder of the Day®…you ROCK! :-)

  17. Hi, I am Harshitha in Mrs.Caplin’s class. I learned some facts in this marvelous wonder. The facts are the continent of Antarctica is the coldest place in the world. Approximately 98% of Antarctica is covered in ice that’s almost a mile thick. Because it averages only about eight inches of precipitation each year, Antarctica is considered a desert. The coldest temperature on Earth ever recorded was -128.6 F at the Russian Vostok Station in Antarctica on July 21, 1983. In winter, temperatures can reach as low as -112 F and below. In the summer near the coast, temperatures can rise as high as almost 60 F. Why does it get hot in summer? Because in winter it gets as low as -112 F. Anyway thanks for the information!!!!!!

    • WOW, Harshitha! You learned a LOT about Antarctica by exploring this Wonder of the Day®! We’re super proud of you! We’re not sure why it gets so much warmer near the coast of Antarctica, so we’ll both have to do a bit more WONDERing about that question! Thank you SO MUCH for leaving us such an AWESOME comment! :-)

  18. Señora Waingort’s Grade 2 Class says:

    We really like your Wonder of the Day. It was cool to find out Antarctica is the coldest place on earth. We don’t think any of us want to go there. We wonder how it gets so cold?

    We think the penguins are cute. How many penguins live in Antarctica? Warning: penguins bite!

    We wonder where is the hottest place on earth?

  19. The coldest place on earth is Antarctica. I like Antarctica because I like penguins. I’m wondering…are there polar bears there?

  20. Those penguins are so cute. I could just snuggle with them! The people who were on the boat are mean they were ruining the polar bears homes!

    • You’re RIGHT, Alex! Way to go! We hope you enjoyed exploring this Wonder and learning new things about Antarctica! :-)

    • Welcome to Wonderopolis, Jack! Check out some of our Wonders from the past– there’s always something new to learn at Wonderopolis! :-)

    • We LOVE Earth Day, Wonder Friend Nickolas! Earth Day is a celebration every day, and we love to Wonder about ways we can keep our world beautiful and clean! What is your favorite part of Earth Day, Wonder Friend? :)

    • It sure is, Wonder Friend Nickolas! Did you celebrate Earth Day? We did our part by recycling and using less paper here at Wonderopolis! :)

    • It sure is, Wonder Friend Nickolas! Did you celebrate Earth Day? We did our part by recycling and using less paper here at Wonderopolis! :)

  21. Hi! It is Sara from Mrs. Bithell’s 5th- 6th grade class! I have learned so many interesting facts by reading the paragraphs about the coldest places on Earth on this educational website! Wow, it gets really cold in Antarctica!!!! Burrrrrrr!!!!!! :-0

  22. Hi! I loved reading about the coldest place on earth! It looks like it is pretty chilly in Antarctica! I love how you guys solve my Wonders! Next time you should do the largest animal in the world! This was my first time trying this website, and I love it! Thank you soooooo much!!! :)

  23. Hi! This is an awesome website. I like how there is a cool fact every day! I can’t wait to see the others! Thanks for writing a lot about each fact!

  24. Antarctica is the coldest place on earth. I think that’s so interesting. I love this website. You just type in a wonder and its there. There are so many wonders to learn about, so I hope nobody would write bad reviews and I hope many people learn a lot just like me. Keep wondering!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • How WONDERful, Vanessa! We are so glad that you enjoy the Wonders on Wonderopolis. There are plenty of Wonders, too! As of today, there are 1,145 Wonders! Enjoy! :-D

  25. This is getting more cool every time I watch it. My grade is 5. I love to learn about where does fog comes from and where is the coldest place on earth. I wonder what Wonderopolis has next for us?

    • You are so welcome, Sasha! We are so glad that you are enjoying the website. Keep WONDERing with us, Wonder Friend! :-)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Share

  • Wonderopolis on Facebook
  • Wonderopolis on Pinterest
  • Print

Have you ever wondered…

  • Where is the coldest place on Earth?
  • How cold does it get in Antarctica?
  • Do people live year-round in Antarctica?

Wonder Gallery

penguins_shutterstock_35959624Vimeo Video

Try It Out

Ready to experiment with some cold temperatures? There’s no need to head to Siberia or Antarctica. Just grab a friend or family member and try some of these fun, but freezing cold science experiments at home:

 

Still Wondering

In National Geographic Xpeditions’ Expedition to the Poles lesson, children pretend they’ve just returned from a year in the Arctic or Antarctic!

 

Wonder Categories/Tags

Wonder What’s Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day might make you believe that what’s good for the goose is also good for the gander!

Upload a Photo or Paste the URL of a YouTube or SchoolTube Video.