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Weekly Weather Event -Week of September 21st

September 25, 2020

On Wednesday September 23rd, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced a new all-time cold record for the northern hemisphere. Interestingly enough, however, this record was set almost 30 years ago in Greenland. As researchers were going through archived data from Arctic region stations, they found that the coldest recorded temperature in the northern hemisphere had been recorded by an automatic weather station on December 22, 1991. The –69.6C (-93.3F) temperature beats out the old record for the northern hemisphere by almost 2C (3.9F), -67.8C recorded by Russian stations in Verkhoyanksk in February 1892 and Oimekon in January 1933. The coldest temperature on record remains –89.2C (-128.6F), recorded on July 21, 1983 at the high-altitude Vostok weather station in Antarctica.

In news a bit closer to home, researchers at the Automatic Weather Stations Project (AWS) at UW-Madison were responsible for helping to design the weather station that recorded this all-time cold record. Of note is UW-Madison researcher George Weidner, a researcher who has been with AWS since 1981. In a statement with the WMO, Weidner described the difficulties that come with designing and transporting a weather station for such cold and harsh temperatures: β€œOn Greenland, all of the sites were installed by snowmobile. So the Automatic Weather Station had to be packed to survive a traverse over very rough snow surfaces. Years of packing experience in Antarctica helped us keep our Automatic Weather Station safe and snug on the sleds being pulled by the snowmobiles.”

The AWS and Antarctic Meteorological Research Center (AMRC) are two research projects that operate out of the AOSS building on campus. Both are sister projects of the United States Antarctic Program (USAP), focusing on observational research, providing real time data, and supporting weather stations all throughout Antartica. The Greenland station mentioned earlier was a part of the Greenland Ice Sheet Project and was one out a network of stations recording meteorological conditions around the Greenland Crest in the early 1990s.