In January, the coldest temperatures occur not at the North Pole, but in parts of Siberia, Canada and Greenland. Why?

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trophyhunter1's profile pic

trophyhunter1 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Oymyakon and Verkhoyansk in Russia,are both located in high altitude areas in Siberia. They both have two of the coldest temperatures that were recorded in this region. One of the reasons is the high altitudes and the other is that they are on land. The higher the altitude, the colder the temperature. Land tends to heat up faster during the daytime, but loses heat faster at night than does water. These places do not have that many hours of daylight during winter months, therefore, they tend to remain cold during these months.

The North Pole is at -3o degrees F in winter and an average of 32 degrees F in summer. The ice is 3-4 meters thick. The water below the ice is higher in temperature than 32 degrees F, therefore it remains a liquid with temperatures above the freezing level. Thus, this helps moderate the climate in the North Pole. Also, because the North Pole is at sea level and lies on a bed of water and the ocean heats up slower and cools down faster than land does, this tends to regulate the climate in the North Pole.


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najm1947's profile pic

najm1947 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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North Pole lies in the Arctic ocean where the water temperature cannot fall below -2 degree C. Though it is covered with a thick layer of ice, the relatively higher temperature of water keeps the North Pole warm as compared to the surrounding land mass including Siberia, Canada and Greenland in January. A higher elevation of the surrounding area also contributes to its lower temperature. 

This is the reason as to why the coldest temperatures do not occur at North Pole in January but in Parts of Siberia, Canada and Greenland.

The case of southern hemisphere is different because it is a land mass called Antarctica. Here the coldest temperatures are recoded near the south pole.