For more station wx info:
Why is Antarctica so Cold?
Several factors combine to making Antarctica one of the coldest and least hospitable places on the Earth:
Weather observations in Antarctica have been recorded only for the last 150 years. Detailed 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.
Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are key elements in the global weather system. This is a system which creates and transfers energy as winds, clouds, rain and all other elements we call "the weather".
The source of this energy is the sun, and because its heating effect is greater at the equator than at the poles, it creates a circulation in the atmosphere. Hot moist air rises over the equator and flows at a high level towards the poles, where it cools and sinks. The equator is therefore a region of low pressure, and the poles are regions of high pressure.
The atmosphere is not a closed system. It interacts with the land, the ocean, and the ice; and the ice in turn interacts with the ocean.Winds create currents in the ocean. The annual cycle of freezing and melting of the sea ice around Antarctica creates a vertical circulation in the ocean.
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 invisible.
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.
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.
"Antarctica is the coldest, highest, windiest, driest, and iciest continent on earth"
Coldest: -129° F at Vostok, July 21, 1983 (World low temperature record.)
Highest: Average elevation 8200 feet (2500 meters).
Windiest: Gales reach 200 mph on Commonwealth Bay, George V coast.
Driest: Average precipitation is less than 2 inches per year.
Iciest: The thickest ice found is in Wilkes Land, where it reaches a depth of 15,669 feet (4,776 meters ).
Receive Antarctic News,
Weather and Information, plus a free screensaver.