Climate and monthly weather forecast

Antarctica - most visited locations

Flag of Antarctica
Flag of Antarctica

The climate of Antarctica

Antarctica, the southernmost continent on Earth, is approximately twice the size of Australia and is primarily covered by ice, accounting for about 70% of the world's fresh water. This vast frozen desert is dominated by an Ice cap climate (Köppen classification "EF") meaning temperatures are frigid throughout the year. Due to its location at the South Pole, it experiences long periods of darkness and sunlight, with each season lasting several months. The average annual temperature ranges from about -10°C (14°F) on the Antarctic coast to -60°C (-76°F) at the highest parts of the interior. Its interior is the coldest place on Earth, with the lowest recorded temperature being -89.2°C (-128.6°F) at the Russian Vostok Station.

The best time to visit Antarctica

The optimal time to visit Antarctica is from November to March when the continent experiences its summer season. During this time, the temperature ranges from -2°C (28.4°F) to 8°C (46.4°F), providing the most "comfortable" weather conditions of the year, albeit still chilly by typical standards. The sun remains above the horizon 24 hours a day, allowing for extended exploration. Wildlife, including seals, penguins, and whales, are most active during this time as they breed and raise their young. It is also the best period to witness icebergs, as warming temperatures cause colossal blocks of ice to calve from the glaciers.

The worst time to visit Antarctica

The period between April and October marks the winter season in Antarctica, which is generally considered the worst time for visiting due to extreme cold and almost complete darkness. Temperatures can plummet to below -60°C (-76°F) and powerful, chilling winds often exceed 100km/h (62.1mph). Additionally, sea ice extends to its maximum, effectively sealing off the continent from conventional ship travel. Few creatures brave the harsh Antarctic winter, with most migratory birds and marine mammals having departed for warmer climes.

Spring weather in Antarctica

Antarctic spring occurs from September to November. Temperatures gradually increase from the extreme cold of the winter, ranging from -30°C (-22°F) to -20°C (-4°F). With the return of the sun, sea ice begins to break up, revealing the ocean beneath. By late spring, temperatures warm enough to allow for the resumption of ship travel. It is during this time that the first penguin colonies begin to form, with emperor penguins laying their eggs as early as March.

Summer weather in Antarctica

In Antarctica, summer extends from December to February. This is the warmest period, with temperatures along the coast ranging from -2°C (28.4°F) to 8°C (46.4°F), although the interior remains much colder. Constant daylight bathes the continent, allowing the ice to melt and form beautiful ice formations. Wildlife activity reaches its peak during the summer, with seals and penguins populating the shores, and whales frequently sighted off the coast.

Autumn weather in Antarctica

From March to May, autumn sets in over Antarctica. The temperature starts to drop, ranging from -15°C (5°F) to -5°C (23°F) along the coast and reaching much lower in the interior. As darkness starts to return, the sun dips below the horizon, leading to spectacular twilight colours that paint the icy landscape. This is also the time when many species begin to migrate away from the continent in anticipation of the oncoming winter.

Winter weather in Antarctica

Winter in Antarctica, which runs from June to August, is an extreme season. The continent is plunged into darkness, with the sun not rising above the horizon for several months. Temperatures can drop as low as -60°C (-76°F) in the interior, with coastal areas experiencing milder but still frigid conditions between -35°C (-31°F) and -15°C (5°F). Wind speeds can exceed 100km/h (62.1mph), adding a wind chill factor that makes the apparent temperature even colder. Despite the harsh conditions, some hardy wildlife such as emperor penguins and Weddell seals remain, surviving on the harsh icy plains.

Weather in January

January is the height of summer in Antarctica and is typically the warmest month of the year. During this time, temperatures on the coast can range from -2°C (28.4°F) to 8°C (46.4°F), providing relatively mild weather conditions for the continent. Weather in January »

Weather in February

February marks the transition from the peak summer season towards the onset of autumn in Antarctica. The temperatures begin to drop compared to January, but it's still relatively mild for Antarctic standards. Coastal temperatures range from -4°C (24.8°F) to 4°C (39.2°F), while temperatures in the interior hover around -38°C (-36.4°F). Notable research stations continue to experience milder conditions than the rest of the continent. Weather in February »

Weather in March

March heralds the onset of autumn in Antarctica, bringing a noticeable shift in weather conditions. Temperatures continue to decrease from the relative mildness of the summer months. Coastal areas experience a temperature range of -10°C (14°F) to -5°C (23°F), while the inland areas record temperatures around -45°C (-49°F). The McMurdo Station and the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, two notable research stations in Antarctica, both see declining temperatures. Weather in March »

Weather in April

April in Antarctica marks a further deepening of autumn and the transition towards the long, harsh winter. The drop in temperatures becomes more pronounced during this month. Coastal regions experience temperatures between -15°C (5°F) and -10°C (14°F), while inland areas endure colder conditions, with temperatures hovering around -60°C (-76°F). Notable research stations continue to register dropping temperatures. Weather in April »

Weather in May

May in Antarctica marks the beginning of the long, dark winter season. Temperatures continue to drop dramatically with coastal areas experiencing frigid conditions between -20°C (-4°F) and -15°C (5°F). The interior of the continent becomes even colder, with temperatures dropping as low as -65°C (-85°F). Notable research stations such as McMurdo Station and the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station register lower temperatures. Weather in May »

Weather in June

June is in the heart of the Antarctic winter. This month experiences the longest periods of darkness and some of the coldest temperatures of the year. The coast has average temperatures ranging between -25°C (-13°F) and -20°C (-4°F), while the interior of the continent plunges to as low as -70°C (-94°F). At the McMurdo Station, temperatures are typically around -25°C (-13°F), and at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, temperatures can fall to -70°C (-94°F). Weather in June »

Weather in July

July in Antarctica marks the apex of the winter season, where the continent is subjected to the harshest weather conditions. Coastal areas experience temperatures between -30°C (-22°F) and -25°C (-13°F). However, the interior, particularly the high plateau, faces temperatures as low as -75°C (-103°F), making it one of the coldest places on Earth. In prominent research stations like McMurdo and Amundsen-Scott South Pole, temperatures remain well below freezing. Weather in July »

Weather in August

August in Antarctica remains deep within the winter season, characterized by severe cold and darkness. Coastal temperatures during this month fluctuate between -30°C (-22°F) and -25°C (-13°F), while the interior regions of the continent can experience temperatures as low as -75°C (-103°F). The well-known research stations McMurdo and Amundsen-Scott South Pole continue to record extremely low temperatures. Weather in August »

Weather in September

September in Antarctica signifies the transition from the brutal winter season to the beginning of spring. Although still exceedingly cold, there is a slight uptick in temperatures compared to the preceding winter months. Coastal areas typically experience temperatures between -25°C (-13°F) and -20°C (-4°F), while the interior of the continent can experience temperatures as low as -70°C (-94°F). At the McMurdo Station and Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, temperatures remain extremely low, averaging -25°C (-13°F) and -70°C (-94°F), respectively. In September, the sea ice reaches its maximum extent, making the continent inaccessible via conventional sea travel. Weather in September »

Weather in October

October in Antarctica marks the continuation of the spring season, bringing a gradual rise in temperatures and increase in sunlight. Coastal areas experience temperatures between -15°C (5°F) and -10°C (14°F), while the interior remains much colder, with temperatures around -60°C (-76°F). Research stations like McMurdo and Amundsen-Scott South Pole also record a slight increase in temperatures. Weather in October »

Weather in November

November in Antarctica is the gateway to the summer season, bringing a significant increase in temperatures and sunlight. Coastal areas typically experience temperatures between -5°C (23°F) and 0°C (32°F), while the interior remains substantially colder, with temperatures around -45°C (-49°F). The research stations McMurdo and Amundsen-Scott South Pole also experience rising temperatures during this month. Weather in November »

Weather in December

December in Antarctica is the peak of the short-lived summer season. Coastal areas can experience relatively mild temperatures, ranging between -2°C (28.4°F) and 3°C (37.4°F), while the interior of the continent remains colder, with temperatures around -30°C (-22°F). At research stations such as McMurdo and the Amundsen-Scott South Pole, temperatures rise somewhat. Weather in December »


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