The Coldest City in the World

Yakutsk, Siberia, has a population of 280,000 people, even though the temperature hovers around 40 below zero for several months of each year. The reason a city of such size even exists that close to the Arctic Circle is because of the minerals beneath it: a fifth of the world's diamonds come from mines near Yakutsk, and the area is rich in natural gas, oil, gold, and silver, too. Photographer Steeve Iuncker visited Yakutsk and witnessed the challenges that come with living in serious cold.

Case in point: Iuncker noticed that locals tended to visit one another a lot, but for only a few minutes: “They would come in, take off their first layer, drink hot tea, and have a toast with jam before bundling up again and stepping outside. It was as if their neighbors’ abodes served as relay points along their journey.” Like them, Iuncker had to adapt his working habits to the elements. His camera, a twin-lens Rolleiflex, afforded him only 15-minute shooting periods. After that the winding mechanism would freeze, and the film risked cracking. Which was just as well; by then his fingers were numb.  

Read about Yakutsk and see two galleries of images at National Geographic. -via Mental Floss

(Image credit: Flickr user Maarten Takens)


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My two year old car uses 0w-20 oil. no issues starting in low temperatures. 20 years ago, I used 5w-20 and could start at 30 below.
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Engine oils are getting thinner and there are probably other improvements. My not special ten year old car starts in the -40 to -35 range with only slightly more effort. Family from the Canadian Prairies grew up with block heaters, and some are still surprised we can visit them in winter without one. I don't know how much colder it could go, and I still come across people with new vehicles (especially trucks, although they maybe didn't have good winterized diesel) that won't start in similar conditions.
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Engine oil at those temperatures is probably like molasses. You would need an engine block warmer to make your vehicle usable.
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I've written about Yakutsk before ...and read that people drive to work and leave their engines going all day, then drive home to their garage. I'm sure not everyone does that. There are probably some sizable municipal and workplace parking garages. And now we have heating devices to warm engines before starting them.
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At college in Maine one winter it was -45ºF. I tried to start my car and it just groaned.Can't imaging it staying that cold for very long.
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