North American cities will be some of the coldest places in the world this week.
To say that the upper half of North America is cold right now would be like saying that the Sun is hot. A polar vortex has caused extremely cold winds to spread across the country, promising record temperatures, well below freezing.
How cold is that? Not many places are likely to reach the coldest inhabited place on Earth, Oymyakon in Russia, which is expected to see lows in the negative 40s this week. But many cities in the Midwest will be colder than areas of the Arctic, Antarctic, and even other planets. Here's a list of places that will be warmer than the Midwest for the next few days
As the Midwest shudders, Alaska actually canceled its Willow 300 Sled Dog Race because it's too hot. The warm temperatures, which here mean "above freezing point", have led to areas of open sea along the way, which could make the race dangerous. Similarly, the Yukon Quest run has been shortened because there simply isn't enough snow.
The low in Siberia is about -15 degrees C today. Milwaukee? 20 degrees C Negative. Top bragging rights, but at what cost?
Mount Everest Base Camp
By early Wednesday, Indianapolis was already negative 23 degrees C, according to the Indianapolis Star. In contrast, Everest Base Camp (which, to be clear, is not the peak of Everest) was a negative 19 degrees.
By Thursday morning, Chicago is likely to have reached its coldest temperature of -32 degrees, with a high of -9 degrees C, according to CNN. By comparison, Antarctica's Priestley Glacier, which is part of the continent's deep freeze range, will have a minus of negative 21 degrees and a maximum of -15 degrees.
The dramatic temperatures we are seeing this week are not an indication that global warming has subsided. A study conducted last year found that extreme winter weather events like these are linked to a warming Arctic. That means that even as the average temperature rises, the people living in those areas must adapt to sudden bouts of cold.
The situation is so dire that experts who have worked in the Arctic and Antarctic are advising people in the Midwest on how to stay warm. Stay dry and combine layers of wool and silk, Akiko Shinya, Antarctic researcher and chief fossil preparer at Chicago's Field Museum, tells the Chicago Tribune.
But no matter how cold it is in Chicago, Minnesota, or Wisconsin, even if it is colder than some places on Mars, we need to keep things in perspective - at least we are not with the New Horizons spacecraft, which has been sinking further and further out in the Solar System. It is somewhere near the Kuiper Belt, which has a temperature that is not above zero, but above absolute zero, which is the lowest possible theoretical temperature.
By Angela Chen
Original article (in English)