Antarctica is the coldest, darkest, driest, highest, and windiest continent on earth. To view the webcam of the McMurdo research station click here.
With all months having an average temperature below freezing, McMurdo features a polar ice cap climate.
The lowest temperature ever recorded on earth was a little more than – 128 degrees Fahrenheit recorded at a Russian site, Vostok, Antarctica (about 200 miles from the South Pole towardsAustralia). People are stationed there all year round as well as the South Pole and McMurdo Station. The temperature at McMurdo Station varies by the season. In the winter the temperature may be as low as – 65 degrees. In the summer, the temperature around Christmas (don’t forget, our summer is the same time as your winter) will be around + 30 degrees F. This year a record was set for warm weather, + 51 degrees. This may have something to do with Global Warming.
The sun sets on April 20th every year and it stays dark until “sunrise”, August 20. From August 20 till October first there is a period where there are normal sunrises and sunsets. Then, the sun begins to stay up all 24 hours. This continues till about the 20th of February. At this time another period begins where there are normal sunrises and sunsets. This continues till “sunset” on the 20th of April. So it is dark as the inside of a closet with the door shut till the next “sunrise”, August 20th.
All the moisture in the air freezes, so the humidity in Antarctica is almost zero. Therefore, it is drier than a desert.
The ice on Antarctica varies from one mile thick on the edges to 2 miles thick at the South Pole. As for size, Antarctica is larger than the lower United States and Mexico combined. So, that is a lot of ice. It is enough ice to be 70 percent of the world’s fresh water, and 90 percent of the world’s ice. There are huge mountains in the Transantarctic Mountain range that go as high as 13, 500 feet. There is an active volcano just 20 miles from McMurdo and it is 13,000 feet tall (Mount Erebus).
Winds are formed at the earth’s equator and go straight up coming back to earth at the South Pole. Here they head for the sea in all northbound directions. The winds (called Katabatic winds) are cooled and begin to pick up velocity, sometimes reaching 100 miles per hour by the time they reach the sea headed back north where they came from. Another wind is generated that blows on-shore around Antarctica headed south. These winds collide at around the McMurdo latitude and go upwards to form an upper atmosphere wind. The wind seldom stops because there are no trees or plants to slow it down.