A sign on the road to the Yakutian town of Oymyakon reads ‘the pole of cold’, thus laying claim to the title of the coldest, constantly inhabited town anywhere on the planet.

Over 500 people live year round in Oymyakon and go about their business despite the extreme weather conditions.

Local lumberjack Alexei Yegorov says winters have been warmer recently, around minus 50 degrees Celsius, markedly higher than the coldest ever recorded temperature in the town of 67.7 degrees below Celsius.

However, Verkhoyansk, another town in the Yakutia has laid claim to Oymyakon’s title based on a series of temperature readings uncovered from archives dating back to the 19th century.

Local ethnographer (and obviously an avid Oymyakon fan) Tamara Vasilyeva has lashed out at Verkhoyansk’s claims, saying that the evidence being provided by the town doesn’t count, as it hasn’t been recorded using more accurate, modern instruments.

‘A misprint appeared in some document saying that in 1885 in Verkhoyansk the temperature of minus 67.8 (Celsius) had been registered. That started the dispute,’ Vasilyeva said.

‘But there was never such a temperature (in Verkhoyansk) in the first place, and the year of 1885 is not recognised by science anyway. In those days the thermometers had different gradations – wider or finer – so they showed different temperatures.’

While the two towns are busily fighting over which is worse, they ought to put aside their differences and pump a little CO2 into the atmosphere instead. Trapped beneath the permafrost of the Yakutia is estimated to be 99 per cent of Russia’s diamond deposits.

The title of coldest town in the world may be fleeting, but diamonds are forever.

Image: Getty