--Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, on the new record for the coldest temperature on Earth of a bone-chilling -135.8[degrees]F, which was recorded on 10 August 2010 at a high ridge on the East Antarctic Plateau. Scientists made the discovery while analyzing 32 years of data in a joint project of NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey. While the new reading is several degrees colder than the world record low surface temperature of -128.6[degrees]F, which occurred in 1983 at Russia's Vostok Research Station in East Antarctica, it won't replace that record because the colder temperature was measured by satellite, not a thermometer. Still, it's colder than any previous surface temperature reading. Scambos, who announced the new lowest temperature at December's AGU meeting in San Francisco, explained that the extreme cold in East Antarctica stems from the landscape of the region, with the harsh air traveling down off the domes and getting trapped in frigid low spots. Although he hasn't experienced such extremely low temperatures himself, Scambos did mention that scientists at the South Pole routinely participate in naked outdoor sprints, no longer than three minutes, at 100[degrees]F below zero. (Source: NASA)
"I think it does tamp down some of these things that we'd rather not be seeing more of."
--Amy Berkov, assistant professor of biology at City College of New York, on the potential effects of extreme cold weather--which blanketed most of the United States in early January--on unwanted insect species. Bugs like the hemlock woolly adelgid, the southern pine beetle, and the tick are unable to survive extreme cold temperatures, although generally when an invasive species has established a new home, it probably won't disappear completely, despite the weather. Nevertheless, many entomologists, foresters, and other scientists were celebrating the cold temperatures and the possibility of at least a reduced population of some harmful species, some of which can be devastating to forests. "It's Mother Nature's way of dealing with this issue," said Mark Fisher of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The January Arctic blast brought cold air from Canada as far south as Florida and broke numerous daily low-temperature records across the U.S. Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, and Midwest. On January 6, the average temperature for the lower 48 states was 17.9[degrees]F, the first time in 17 years that it had dropped below 18[degrees]F. (Source: The New York Times; Weather.com)
"They feel contemporary. They come out of the ice just as they went in."
--Franco Nicolis of the Archaeological Heritage Office in Trento, Italy, on the mummified bodies of World War I soldiers discovered near the small northern town of Peio. Beginning in the 1990s, when the glaciers began to melt, items like letters began flooding out of the mountains into the town. Then the bodies began to emerge. Like the other materials, they were amazingly well preserved due to the ice. Two soldiers who died on the Presena glacier in May 1918 were discovered in a crevasse, both with bullet holes in their skulls. Last fall, 500 people from the town attended their funeral 95 years after they died. According to Nicolis, weather was an enemy to both sides of the war. At altitudes of up to 12,000 feet, the temperature could plunge to -30[degrees]C, and avalanches also took the lives of thousands. To date, more than 80 soldiers have emerged from the ice, with more expected to be discovered as the glaciers continue to melt. (Source: The Daily Telegraph)
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|Title Annotation:||NOWCAST: NEWS AND NOTES; record coldest temperature on Earth; potential effects of extreme cold weather on insect species; and thawing of the mummified bodies from World War I|
|Publication:||Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society|
|Date:||May 1, 2014|
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