On December 22, 1991, a weather station in Greenland detected a record low temperature in the region: -69.6 °C, but the data has remained unnoticed, until now.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recognized the temperature of -69.6 °C in Greenland, measured on December 22, 1991, as the coldest ever recorded in the Northern Hemisphere.
It was discovered by scientists at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and is close to the record -89.2 °C, recorded on July 21, 1983, in Antarctica.
“It was really surprising to find that this extreme temperature had remained unnoticed for nearly thirty years. However the team that installed the automatic weather station had kept excellent records that enabled us to verify rapidly that this was an accurate measurement,” explained John King, a meteorologist at BAS.
“Greenland has been warming rapidly over the past thirty years so I don’t think that we’ll see this record broken any time soon.”
The measurement was made at the Klinck station, located at an elevation of 3,105 meters, close to the topographic summit of the ice sheet.
It was operational for two years in the early 1990s, and its purpose was to record the region’s weather conditions for research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States.
“This newly recognized cold record is an important reminder about the stark contrasts that exist on this planet,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.
“It is testimony to the dedication of climate scientists and weather historians that we are now able to investigate many of these older records and secure a better global understanding of not only current, but also historical, climate extremes.”