[FOUNTAIN]The adaptable animal

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[FOUNTAIN]The adaptable animal

“As the continental high atmospheric pressure developed near the Baikal Lake comes near the Korean Peninsula.”
Until the 1990s, for forty years, these were the words of weather forecaster Kim Dong-wan we would often hear at this time of year over our radios. The freshwater Baikal Lake freezes during the winter but its temperature is higher than nearby areas. Because of this, the cold Siberian air gathers near the lake bringing freezing weather with strong winds to the Far East region.
The coldest region in the earth is Antarctica. Antarctica is colder than the North Pole which is located near a sea so the temperature drops less. Antarctica, covered in 2 kilometers of ice, is also high above sea level. On August 24, 1960, -88.3 degrees Celsius (-126.94 F) was reported at Vostok Station, located 3,488 meters (2.16 miles) above sea level in the southeast of Antarctica. It was much lower than the -68 degrees Celsius reported near Verkhoyansk, east of Siberia.
In severe cold, if there is a strong wind, the sensory temperature drops much lower because the skin loses heat. If the weather is -10 degrees Celsius and the wind is 5 kilometers per hour, the sensory temperature is -13 degrees Celsius, but if the wind is 30 kilometers per hour, the sensory temperature drops to -20. If the sensory temperature drops below -25 degrees Celsius, one can catch frostbite within 15 minutes and if it goes below -45 degrees Celsius, exposed skin will freeze. Outside activities are extremely dangerous when the temperature is below -60 degrees Celsius.
According to the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, when exposed to extreme cold, one’s mobility drops drastically due to hypothermia. If the temperature within the brain drops more than 2 degrees Celsius, one will experience mental disarray. The chemical reactions get confused and deliver false information. One of the weird behaviors people who freeze to death exhibit is taking off their clothes. Due to mental confusion, they feel hot and remove their clothes.
Freezing weather has disturbed Korea for more than two weeks. From the North Pole, a pocket of cold air at -45 degrees Celsius moved to the peninsula and froze the whole country. The reason a teenage girl in Incheon died while walking in cold weather was due to hypothermia. We can’t just stay inside either. Thursday is Dongji, or the winter solstice. There is a saying that the year will be fruitful if the day of Dongji is cold. In Siberia, children run around in temperatures of -20 to -30 degrees Celsius. However, in India, 15 people died in 3 degrees Celsius. Mankind adapts to weather conditions.


by Lee Chul-ho

The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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