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Welcome to coldest city on earth!

Published time: December 02, 2008 07:05
Edited time: December 02, 2008 07:05

This may look like a winter wonderland, but with temperatures plunging to minus 70 degrees Celsius (-94 Fahrenheit) your eyelashes frost over if you stand and stare at it for too long. RT's Close Up welcomes you in the coldest town on earth.

The spine-chilling world record of minus 71 degrees Celsius (-96 Fahrenheit) was measured in the republic in 1926, and placed the town of Oymyakon firmly in the Guinness Book of Records, as the coldest inhabited settlement in the world.

The town is situated in a valley surrounded by two high mountains that trap cold winter air and stop warmer air getting in. This is what causes the big chill.

“I personally recorded a temperature of minus 63 degrees Celsius (-81 Fahrenheit) a few years ago. It was so cold that my spit froze before it hit the ground,” recalls meteorologist Valery Vinokorov.

Across Yakutia the ground is permanently frozen all year round. This condition is called permafrost and covers 65 per cent of Russia.

At the Permafrost Institute in Yakutsk scientists investigate the frozen soil in an underground research lab. They say it’s as hard as concrete.

Ten metres below ground ice crystals make it look chilly, but in fact it’s minus 6 degrees (+21 Fahrenheit) all year round. Back above ground, however, in the Oymaykon region, it takes more effort to keep warm.

In this part of the world, drivers set off in pairs. Being stuck alone on an isolated road is a far from pleasant prospect. Meanwhile, some people rely on vodka to warm their hearts.

It’s a challenge – both physical and psychological – to come to terms with the extreme conditions, and one that must be faced anew everyday.

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