Antarctica

Go deeper: Finding the coldest temperature on Earth

1911: Norwegian explorer Captain Roald Amundsen, the first man to reach the South Pole, inspecting ice fields near a glacier in the Atlantic Ocean.
Norwegian explorer Captain Roald Amundsen, the first man to reach the South Pole, inspecting ice fields in 1911. Photo: Keystone/Getty Images

In 2013, scientists announced that they had observed the coldest temperature on Earth near the South Pole at -135°F, but a new study re-analyzing that data found the temperature was really -144°F.

The big picture: Researchers scanning dips and hollows in the Antarctic ice sheet found that, over the last 14 years, there were many places where temperatures dropped to exactly -144°F but never colder, prompting them to postulate that this is the lowest possible temperature on Earth's surface.

Rising ground under West Antarctica could prevent ice sheet collapse

West Antarctic Ice sheet as viewed from a NASA aircraft.
A section of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet with mountains is viewed from a window of a NASA Operation IceBridge airplane on October 31, 2016 in-flight over Antarctica. Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images.

A new study finds that the ground underneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet region is rebounding, or rising, at an extraordinarily rapid rate.

Why this matters: Previous research has shown that enough ice has already melted in this region to trigger a potentially irreversible melt of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which would sharply increase sea levels worldwide. Now, though, scientists may have identified a new brake on this runaway train.