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The • 
 •• is the coldest on the whole of Earth. Antarctica has the lowest temperature
ever recorded: о89.2 °C (о128.6 °F) at Vostok Station.[1] It is also extremely dry (technically a desert),
averaging 166 mm (6.5 in) of precipitation per year. Even so, on most parts of the continent the snow
rarely melts and is eventually compressed to become the glacial ice that makes up the ice sheet.
Weather fronts rarely penetrate far into the continent. Most of Antarctica has an ice cap climate (Koppel
„ ) with very cold, generally extremely dry weather throughout the year and no month averaging above
0 °C (32 °F). Some fringe coastal areas have a polar climate (Koppel „) with a short summer averaging
above freezing, and much higher precipitation.


The lowest naturally occurring temperature on Earth was í89.2°C (í128.6°F); recorded on
Thursday, July 21, 1983 at Vostok Station. For comparison, this is 11 °C colder than subliming
dry ice. The highest temperature ever recorded in Antarctica was 14.6°C (58.3°F) in two places,
Hope Bay and Vanda Station, on January 5, 1974.

The mean annual temperature of the interior is í57°C (í70°F). The coast is warmer. Monthly
means at McMurdo Station range from í28°C (í18.4°F) in August to í3°C (26.6°F) in January.
At the South Pole, the highest temperature recorded was í14°C (7°F). Along the Antarctic
Peninsula, temperatures as high as 15°C (59°F) have been recorded, though the summer
temperature is usually around 2°C (36°F).

Severe low temperatures vary with latitude, elevation, and distance from the ocean. East
Antarctica is colder than West Antarctica because of its higher elevation. The Antarctic
Peninsula has the most moderate climate. Higher temperatures occur in January along the coast
and average slightly below freezing.

The total precipitation in Antarctica, averaged over the entire continent, is about 166 mm (6.5 in) per
year (Vaughan et al., J Climate, 1999). The actual rates vary widely, from high values over the Peninsula
(meters/yards per year) to very low values (as little as 50 mm (2 in) per year) in the high interior. Areas
that receive less than 250 mm (10 in) of precipitation per year are classified as deserts. Almost all
Antarctic precipitation falls as snow. Note that the quoted precipitation is a measure of its equivalence
to water, rather than being the actual depth of snow. The air in Antarctica is also very dry. The low
temperatures result in a very low absolute humidity, which means that dry skin and cracked lips are a
continual problem for scientists and expeditioners working in the continent.



Antarctic ice shelves, 1998.

Most of the coastline of Antarctica is ice shelves (floating ice sheet) or ice walls (grounded ice).
Melting or breakup of floating shelf ice does not affect global sea levels, and happens regularly
as shelves grow.

Known changes in coastline ice:

u? Around the Antarctic Peninsula:
? 1936ʹ1989: Wordie Ice Shelf significantly reduced in size.
? 1995: Prince Gustav Channel no longer blocked by ice. Last open from about 1900 years
ago to 6500 years ago, probably due to warmth during the Holocene Climatic Optimum.
? Parts of the Larsen Ice Shelf broke up in recent decades.
'? 1995: The Larsen A ice shelf disintegrated in January 1995.
'? 2001: 3,250 km² of the Larsen B ice shelf disintegrated in February 2001. It had
been gradually retreating before the breakup event.

The George VI Ice Shelf, which may be on the brink of instability [3], has probably existed for
approximately 8000 years, after melting 1500 years earlier [4]. Warm ocean currents may have
been the cause of the melting [5]. The idea that it was warmer in Antarctica 10,000 years ago is
supported by ice cores, though the timing is not quite right.

See also: Ross Ice Shelf, Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf, Larsen Ice Shelf, Abbot Ice Shelf, Dotson Ice
Shelf, Getz Ice Shelf, Shackleton Ice Shelf, West Ice Shelf, Amery Ice Shelf, West Ice Shelf.


An    is a continuous, directed movement of ocean water generated by the forces
acting upon this mean flow, such as breaking waves, wind, Coriolis force, temperature and
salinity differences and tides caused by the gravitational pull of the Moon and the Sun. Depth
contours, shoreline configurations and interaction with other currents influence a current's
direction and strength.

Ocean currents can flow for great distances, and together they create the great flow of the global
conveyor belt which plays a dominant part in determining the climate of many of the Earth¶s
regions. Perhaps the most striking example is the Gulf Stream, which makes northwest Europe
much more temperate than any other region at the same latitude. Another example is the
Hawaiian Islands, where the climate is cooler (sub-tropical) than the tropical latitudes in which
they are located, due to the effect of the California Current.

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nlike the Arctic region, Antarctica is a continent surrounded by an ocean which means that interior
areas do not benefit from the moderating influence of water.
With 98% of its area covered with snow and ice, the Antarctic continent reflects most of the sun's light
rather than absorbing it.
The extreme dryness of the air causes any heat that is radiated back into the atmosphere to be lost
instead of being absorbed by the water vapor in the atmosphere.
Uuring the winter, the size of Antarctica doubles as the surrounding sea water freezes, effectively
blocking heat transfer from the warmer surrounding ocean.
Antarctica has a higher average elevation than any other continent on Earth which results in even colder

Weather observations in Antarctica have been recorded only for the last 150 years. Uetailed climatic
monitoring began in the late 1950's. Most Antarctic stations today are equipped with sophisticated
weather monitoring technology and are manned by professional meteorologists who perform
observations around the clock. Automated stations and remote sensing equipment provide a wealth of
previously unattainable data and help to paint a more accurate picture of Antarctic weather continent-
wide. Satellite measurements and photographs of the continent continue to reveal valuable information
concerning cloud cover, storm movement, ice formation and distribution patterns, and a variety of other
environmental characteristics.

à     à à 


u Temperatures on the Polar Plateau General:

Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are key
range from -115xF to +6xF; the mean
elements in the global weather system. This is
temperature is -56xF.? Winter wind-
a system which creates and transfers energy as
chills can plummet to -148xF.
winds, clouds, rain and all other elements we call "the
u Wind speeds average just? 12 mph, a weather".
mere summer breeze compared to the
198 mph katabatic winds found on the
The source of this energy is the sun, and because its
coast of Antarctica.
heating effect is greater at the equator than at the poles,
u Precipitation averages less than 1" it creates a circulation in the atmosphere. Hot moist air
annually. rises over the equator and flows at a high level towards
the poles, where it cools and sinks. The equator is
u 0.03% average humidity combined therefore a region of low pressure, and the poles are
with the extreme cold make the South regions of high pressure.
Pole region the world's driest desert.
u Solar radiation becomes zero as the The atmosphere is not a closed system. It interacts with
sun dips below the horizon on March the land, the ocean, and the ice; and the ice in turn
22 and isn't seen again until September interacts with the ocean.Winds create currents in the
22. ocean. The annual cycle of freezing and melting of the sea
ice around Antarctica creates a vertical circulation in the
Blizzards are a typical Antarctic phenomenon in which very little, if any, snow actually
falls.? Instead the snow is picked up and blown along the surface by the wind,
resulting in blinding conditions in which objects less than a meter away may be

Whiteouts are another peculiar Antarctica condition, in which there are no shadows or contrasts
between objects.? A uniformly grey or white sky over a snow-covered surface can yield these whiteouts,
which cause a loss of depth perception -- for both humans and wildlife.

Solar Energy:
Because of the tilt of the earth's axis relative to its orbit around the sun, the sun does not shine at the
South Pole for six months of the year. When the sun does shine, much less solar energy actually reaches
the ground at the Pole because the sun's rays pass through a thicker layer of atmosphere than at the
Equator. Also, due to the predominance of ice and snow covering Antarctica, most of the sun's rays that
do reach the ground are reflected back into space.

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