How Warm Does It Get in Antarctica?

Antarctica is not associated with balmy weather, but a few instances of pleasant temperatures on the continent have been recorded since the middle of the 20th century. On 5 January 1974, a record high of 59° Fahrenheit (15° Celsius) was confirmed at Vanda Station. The record low in Antarctica also is the coldest recorded temperature of anywhere on Earth. On 21 July 1983, the temperature in Vostok, Antarctica, was logged as minus-128.5° Fahrenheit (minus-88.3° Celsius).

More facts about weather in Antarctica:

  • Dry air is the norm in Antarctica. The little water vapor that might develop when temperatures increase above freezing is quickly turned to frost as the temperatures drop again.

  • In rare situations, small amounts of water vapor in the air might remain suspended as ice crystals. When sunlight reflects off the crystals, it can create a wide array of visual displays.

  • The Drake Passage is a narrow stretch of ocean between the southernmost tip of South America and the northern tip of Antarctica. Navigating this passage is extremely dangerous because of strong winds and currents. The English name for the passage is in honor of Sir Francis Drake, a 16th-century English explorer. In many Latin American nations, the passage is known as the Mar de Hoces, after Spanish navigator Francisco de Hoces, who is believed to have viewed the passage a half-century before Drake.

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