Since December 4, 2022, social media users have been claiming that Russia recently recorded an all-time low temperature of -71.2°C in Oymyakon, a town in the country’s northeast. To illustrate these claims, an image that was allegedly taken when the record was set has been circulating. However, this photo is actually a photomontage made from old images. The lowest temperature recorded in Oymyakon dates back to the beginning of the 20th century.
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Since December 4, 2022, Facebook and Twitter users have been sharing an unusual image that shows a completely frozen worksite vehicle. These posts have gone viral with several thousand views.
According to the users who shared it, the photo was taken recently in Oymyakon, a small town in Russia, where temperatures supposedly hit -71.2°C. Some users even used this information to question the reality of climate change.
However, there is nothing authentic about this photograph. It is a photomontage edited from old images.
The coldest temperature on record was set in Oymyakon, but during the first half of the 20th century.
The fact-check, in detail
On December 5, 2022, a French-language Facebook account posted the photo in question, along with this caption: “Global warming is a joke! Record cold hit in Oymyakon, Russia: -71.2°C”.
Various Twitter and Facebook accounts have been sharing the same information. According to them, the lowest temperature in history was recently recorded in the town of Oymyakon, in the northeast of Russia.
This information has also been widely shared by English-language Facebook accounts. Some of these posts have garnered thousands of likes.
To verify the authenticity of the photograph, we conducted a reverse image search (find out how to do this here). The results show that the photo has been circulating on the internet for several years.
The TinEye reverse image tool enables users to display results from the most modified to the least modified image. We found that some of the images only showed the truck, while others only showed the man’s frozen face.
As our colleagues from the Italian fact-checking media Open wrote, this clue shows us that this image is in fact a photomontage created with two separate photographs.
We conducted a reverse image search of these two images. The results showed that the image of the frozen construction machine was first published on a blog post back in July 2008.
Meanwhile, the photo of the man’s frozen face was published in a blog post from 2014.
Although it is difficult to trace the exact origin of these two images, the presence of the photos in the old blog posts shows that the image being circulated is in fact a photomontage made from two much older photographs. Therefore, it was not taken recently in Oymyakon.
The lowest recorded temperature was set in Oymyakon … but not recently
Oymyakon has become known as the city with the lowest recorded temperature in a year-round inhabited area. Several media organisations such as RTL, the Spanish media Marca and the New York Post have mentioned this record. According to the Guinness World Record website, the record was officially set in 1933 when the temperature in Oymyakon was -67.7°C.
But some articles mention a lower figure of -71.2°C. That’s because it was not officially recorded and was based on accounts from residents. Residents told the New York Post and Marca that this unprecedented temperature was hit in 1924.
According to several sites that publish temperature records, such as accuweather.com and timeanddate.com, on December 4, 2022, when the photomontage in question was the most shared, it was “only” -55°C in Oymyakon.
If you want us to verify any images, reach out to the FRANCE 24 Observers team via the Twitter account @InfoIntoxF24 and we’ll take a look.