What thermometers do we use to measure -50 degrees Celsius in Yakutia, Siberia / Russia?

February 19, 2012

-50C in Yakutsk, Yakutia / Russia. Photo by Egor Fedorov.

Received a message from India. A lady wrote that she had always been VERY fascinated by Siberia and the cold! She noted that it was unfortunate that in India they only reach just about 0° deg Celcius barely on cold winter nights!

Her question was “What kind of special thermometers do you have yo measure that kind of extreme temperature? I have a Timex expedition watch with a range from 60°C to -10°C. So i guess that is just useless there! So where do you measure it and where do you buy that?”

Indeed, what type of thermometers work out in the extreme cold winter weather?

We, ordinary residents of Yakutia, use mainly mercury-in-glass thermometers. If to be more precise, they must have mercury-thallium alloy, that protect from freezing. Nevertheless, their solidification (freezing) point is -61.1°C.

Such thermometers are mainly produced in the Moscow area, but we buy them in Yakutsk, though it is already rare to see them at stores.

Many Yakutian families keep their mercury-thallium thermometers attached to the outdoor side of windows.

There are some red-liquid-in-glass thermometers designed for tourists, but they are not accurate and locals say it was one entrepreneur’s cheap try to meet travelers’ demand.

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