Dear Tom,

What is the coldest temperature ever recorded, worldwide?

—Maureen Lombardi, Calumet City

Dear Maureen,

The world’s coldest temperature record, established on July 21, 1983, is held by the high-altitude weather station of Vostok, Antarctica. On that date, the temperature fell to -128.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature record was determined by “climate detectives” at the World Meteorological Organization’s Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes. A temperature of -93.3 degrees at an automatic weather station in Greenland on December 22, 1991, stands as the Northern Hemisphere’s lowest temperature ever registered. Attention focuses on heat records in the present era of climate change, but cold records remind us of the stark temperature contrasts that exist on this planet.