1. The City of Ice (Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, China)
For the 27th year in a row, the city of Harbin in Northeast China is hosting the Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival. The event begins January 5th each year and continues for about a month. Every year artists, enthusiasts, and ice-sculpting experts descend on Harbin to participate in the festivities. The event has progressed from a snow-and-ice exposition to an annual cultural exchange experience that includes sporting events such as ice skating, weddings, and parties. Learn more.
2. Killer Icicles (St. Petersburg, Russia)
Saint Petersburg in Russia is a major city located in a country known for its frigid winter climate. These facts might lead one to think that the metropolis would be well prepared for even the harshest of conditions. You might be surprised to hear that in 2009 alone three people died and at least 185 others were injured by a little known winter hazard–icicles. These everyday ice formations become deadly projectiles when dislodged from the eaves of buildings. Official statistics for 2010 have not yet been published. Learn more.
3. Coldest temperature ever recorded (Vostok, Antarctica)
Since official record keeping began in 1912, the coldest temperature ever recorded was -89.2 degrees Celsius (-128.5 degrees Fahrenheit) at Vostok, Antarctica, on July 21, 1983. Vostok is a Russian research facility located about 1,300 kilometers from the South Pole. During the winter, the sun never shines in this region, and because of Vostok’s location, extreme southern position, and high elevation, it often experiences very cold temperatures.
4. Man-made glaciers (Stakmo, Ladakh, India)
Who knows how to create a glacier? I know how to make an ice cube, but I had no idea it was possible to make a large scale one. In India, one man has mastered the art of glacier making. Chewang Norphel, a 74-year-old former government civil engineer, has been constructing artificial glaciers for several years now in an effort to conserve water in the high altitude region he calls home. Natural glacier melt-off is diverted into man-made holding sites made of stone, which are located on the shady side of the hill where the run-off freezes. Inside the holding site, G pipes are located every five feet so that water can be distributed when needed. Learn more.
5. Frost bite
Frost does not literally bite, but it can be quite painful. Frostbite occurs when skin is exposed to extremely cold temperatures. Typically, frostbite affects extremities that are exposed to the cold air, such as fingers and earlobes. But when the temperature is 20° Fahrenheit or lower and the wind chill is in the sub-zero range, frostbite can set in within minutes. Learn more.
Becky Hafer for My Wonderful World
Photo by Børge Ousland, National Geographic magazine