Dome A or Dome Argus is the loftiest ice dome on the Antarctic Plateau, located 1,200 km (750 mi) inland. It is thought to be the coldest naturally occurring place on Earth, with temperatures believed to reach −90 to −98 °C (−130 to −144 °F). It is the highest ice feature in Antarctica, consisting of an ice dome or eminence 4,093 m (13,428 ft) above sea level. It is located near the center of East Antarctica, approximately midway between the enormous head of Lambert Glacier and the geographic South Pole, within the Australian claim.
|Elevation||4,093 m (13,428 ft)|
|Prominence||1,639 m (5,377 ft)|
Dome Argus is located on the massive East Antarctic Ice Sheet and is the highest ice feature of Antarctica. Dome A is a lofty ice prominence, the highest rooftop of the Antarctic Plateau, and the elevation visually is not noticeable. Below this enormous dome, underneath at least 2,400 m (7,900 ft) of ice sheet, lies the Gamburtsev Mountain Range, about the size of the European Alps.
The name "Dome Argus" was given by the Scott Polar Research Institute from Greek mythology. Argus built the ship Argo, in which Jason and the Argonauts traveled to Colchis in search of the Golden Fleece.
This site is one of the driest locations on Earth and receives 1 to 3 cm (0.4 to 1.2 in) of snow per year. Due to this, as well as calm weather, this site is an excellent location to obtain ice core samples for the research of past climates. Temperatures at Dome A fall below −80 °C (−112 °F) almost every winter.
Details of the morphology of this feature were determined by the SPRI-NSF-TUD airborne radio echo sounding program between the years 1967 and 1979.
In January 2005 a team from the Chinese National Antarctic Research Expeditions (CHINARE) traversed 1,228 km (763 mi) from Zhongshan Station to Dome A and located the highest point of the ice sheet (4,093 m (13,428 ft) above sea level) by GPS survey at on January 18. This point is near one end of an elongate ridge (about 60 km (37 mi) long and 10 km (6.2 mi) wide), which is a major ice divide and has an elevation difference along its length of only a few meters. An automatic weather station (AWS) was deployed at Dome A, and a second station was installed approximately halfway between the summit and the coast at a site called Eagle ( , 2830 m above sea level). These AWS are operated as part of an ongoing collaboration between China and Australia and include a third AWS (LGB69) at , 1,854 m (6,083 ft) above sea level, which has operated since January 2002. The station at Dome A is powered by solar cells and diesel fuel and requires yearly service and refuelling.
The coldest air temperature recorded by thermometer at Dome A since January 2005 was −82.5 °C (−116.5 °F) in July 2005. This may have been beaten by an unconfirmed reading of −82.7 °C (−116.9 °F) in June 2019. The lowest surface temperature ever measured on the surface of the Earth (−93.2 °C (−135.8 °F)) was recorded by satellite on August 10, 2010, between Dome Argus and Dome Fuji. Analysis of satellite data and atmospheric models shows that Ridge A, which is located 144 km (89 mi) southeast of Dome A, is potentially an even better location to look for the lowest temperatures on Earth.
The Polar Research Institute of China deployed a robotic observatory called PLATO (PLATeau Observatory) on the dome in January 2008. PLATO was designed and built by the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia to provide a platform from which astronomical observations and site-testing could be conducted. Various institutions from Australia, US, China and the UK provided instruments that were deployed with PLATO, these instruments included CSTAR, Gattini, PreHEAT, Snodar, Nigel and the PLATO web cameras.
The Kunlun Station, China's third station in Antarctica, was set up at the dome on January 27, 2009. Thus far the Antarctic Kunlun Station is suitable as a summer station, but there are plans to develop it further and build an airfield nearby to ease servicing, as it is not reachable by helicopters.
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- NASA-USGS Landsat 8 Satellite Pinpoints Coldest Spots on Earth
- PLATO – Dome A Robotic Observatory
- Live Webcams From Dome A
- International Polar Foundation coverage
- PLATO – Dome A Robotic Observatory – Chinese Translation
- China to Build Third Station in Antarctica (China Daily, Oct 14 2004)
- Photo Gallery (People's Daily, Jan 19 2005)
- Chinese Engineer Receives Medical Treatment After Falling Ill During Antarctic Traverse (US National Science Foundation, Jan 19 2005)
- Expedition Photographs (People's Daily, Jan 21 2005)
- An account of the Dome A expedition (Beijing Review, May 2005)