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The climate of Antarctica: when to go to Antarctica

Antarctica is known as the ice continent. The climate of Antarctica is the most inhospitable of planet Earth. In this continent there are no cities or inhabited centers but the only human settlements are scientific bases.

Antarctica is on average the coldest continent on the planet. The coldest temperature ever recorded on the Earth’s surface was recorded in Antarctica at the Russian base Vostok Station – a station located in Princess Elizabeth Land at 3,488 meters above sea level – here on July 21, 1983 a temperature of -89.2°C was measured. Satellite measurements recorded even lower values, the lowest temperature value ever recorded on the surface of Antarctica by a satellite is -93.2°C.

THE CLIMATE OF ANTARCTICA: GLACIAL TEMPERATURES

In Antarctica the temperature is not mitigated – as is the case in the Arctic with the Gulf Stream – by no warm sea currents. Therefore in this continent the temperatures are extremely rigid. Eastern Antarctica – that is, the part of the continent facing Australia – is colder than its western counterpart due to its elevated position. In the internal areas of the eastern Antarctic plateau in winter there are average temperatures below to -50 / -55 ° C.

The South Pole, located at an altitude of 2,835 meters, has a long and cold winter that lasts from March to October with an average temperature of the coldest winter month (July) of -59 ° C. Along the coast, the average winter temperatures are around -20 ° C. In the Antarctic Peninsula which has the mildest climate in all of Antarctica, the average winter temperatures vary between -10 ° C and -15 ° C. In the summer months the average temperatures of the coast reach values around or above 0 ° C. While in the interior of the continent temperatures remain between -10 ° C and -30 ° C.

THE CLIMATE OF ANTARCTICA: INTENSE AND COLD WINDS

Much of the continent experiences long dark months during the winter, between June and August, and uninterrupted days of light during the summer, between December and February. Intense and cold winds are a constant in the Antarctic climate. Called “katabatic winds” or “gravitational winds” they blow from the inland plateau towards the sea and are particularly intense along the coasts, at the edge of the continent, while inland the winds are cold but generally moderate in intensity. Due to the strong winds the seas around Antarctica are known to be the stormiest seas in the world.

THE CLIMATE OF ANTARCTICA: LOW PRECIPITATIONS

Looking at the rainfall, Antarctica can be considered a frozen desert. From the point of view of rainfall, the Antarctic continent is considered the driest desert in the world. Atmospheric fronts rarely penetrate the interior of the continent, leaving the internal areas cold and dry. Clouds are intense and frequent along the coasts, but they decrease considerably in the interior of the continent.

The central highlands of the continent receive on average less than 150 mm of annual rainfall and in some areas the rainfall is less than 50 mm per year. The rainfall is all snowy. Heavy snowfalls are common on the coastal part of the continent. The coast receives a greater amount of rainfall, generally between 200 mm and 400 mm. The areas with the most intense rainfall across the continent are the coastal areas of the Antarctic Peninsula – located below South America – and Wilkes Land – located below Australia – in these coastal areas the average rainfall exceeds 600 mm per year.

The sea surrounding Antarctica is frozen for most of the year, and only partially melts during the months between December and March. The so-called “Antarctic pack” in the winter months reaches latitudes between 55 ° S and 60 ° S, while in summer it arrives just north of the Antarctic Polar Circle.

WHEN TO GO TO ANTARCTICA

The Antarctic continent is the coldest area on the planet. The best time to visit this pristine continent are the months between December and February, which are relatively warmer months. During this period, the average daily temperatures along the coasts of Antarctica are close and sometimes higher than 0 ° C. These months are also those in which south of the Antarctic Circle the sun never sets.

The climate of the Antarctic Peninsula.

The official page of the Scientific Committee for research in Antarctica.

CLIMATE OF ANTARCTICA: CLIMATE TABLES

SOUTH POLE (2.835 meters)
MonthAverage low (°C)Average high (°C)Precip. (mm)Rainy days (snowy days)
January-29,4-25,9
February-42,7-38,1
March-57,0-50,3
April-61,2-54,2
May-61,7-53,9
June-61,2-54,4
July-62,8-55,9
August-62,5-55,6
September-62,4-55,1
October-53,8-48,4
November-40,4-36,9
December-29,3-26,5
YEAR-52,0-46,310
BASE ESPERANZA (25 meters)
MonthAverage low (°C)Average high (°C)Precip. (mm)Rainy days (snowy days)
January-1,83,15614 (16)
February -2,92,66514 (15)
March-6,4-0,47517 (16)
April-11,1-3,45917 (16)
May-13,4-5,65414 (14)
June-15,1-6,64711 (13)
July-15,0-6,45413 (14)
August-14,7-6,27215 (14)
September-11,1-2,76215 (16)
October-7,40,35615 (15)
November-4,61,36516 (16)
December-2,13,26916 (16)
YEAR -8,8 -1,7726177 (181)
VOSTOK STATION (3.488 meters)
MonthAverage low (°C)Average high (°C)Precip. (mm)Rainy days (snowy days)
January-37,5-27,01,0
February -50,0-38,70,7
March-61,8-52,92,0
April-67,8-61,12,4
May-69,1-62,02,8
June-68,9-60,62,5
July-70,4-62,42,2
August-71,5-63,92,3
September-70,2-61,62,4
October-63,1-51,51,9
November-49,8-37,21,1
December-38,0-27,10,7
YEAR-59,8-50,522
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