Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 21, 2010

Vostok Station

July 21, 1983: The coldest temperature is recorded on planet Earth at Vostok Station, Antarctica – a bone-chilling -128.6° F. While sweltering in the summer heat and humidity, it is odd to think that this day holds the record for coldest recorded temperature. But it is winter in the southern hemisphere and Vostok Station is located near the geomagnetic South Pole.

Vostok Station is a Russian research station built and manned since 1957. The annual average temperature is a much balmier -67º F. The station consists of five buildings that house an average summer population of 25 and winter population of 13. It is located 2.2 miles above sea level and is the most isolated of all the established research stations on Antarctica. It is located at the southern Pole of Cold (where the lowest temperature has been recorded in the Southern Hemisphere). The northern Pole of Cold is also Russian, located in Siberia. Northern Hemisphere temperature lows were reached in Verkyoyansk on January 15, 1885 at -90° F.

Vostok station began operation during the International Geophysical Year (1957) on December 16. The 2nd Soviet Antarctic Expedition operated the station year-round for 37 years. It was closed in January 1994 for a short time. In 1996, a British scientist discovered Lake Vostok, the largest known subglacial lake in the world.

Although the station is Russian, the Americans and French have joined in the ice core drilling projects which gives us valuable information about the planet’s past. The drilling has reached as far as 11,886 feet and was stopped because of concerns about contamination by Lake Vostok. The usable climactic data reaches back about 414,000 years. By greater manipulation of current data, climates can possibly be measured for another 12,000 years.

“One kind word can warm three winter months.” – Japanese proverb

“Never take a job where winter winds can blow up your pants.” – Geraldo Rivera

“Winter, a bad guest, sitteth with me at home; blue are my hands with his friendly handshaking” – Friedrich Nietzsche

“If Antarctica were music it would be Mozart. Art, and it would be Michelangelo. Literature, and it would be Shakespeare. And yet it is something even greater; the only place on earth that is still as it should be. May we never tame it.” – Andrew Denton

Also on this day, in 356 BC, the Temple of Artemis was destroyed by fire.

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