Antarctica weather, temperature and climate is an important consideration when planning travel to the white continent. In this post we outline the broad strokes of Antarctica climate including temperature tables and weather tables designed for travelers.
This page supports our detailed post on the best time to visit Antarctica with a month by month guide to Antarctica average temperatures, wildlife and daylight.
Below our experts outline the climate of Antarctica, especially as it pertains to travelers. We focus on the most popular regions for Antarctica cruises including Antarctic Peninsula climate, Falklands Islands climate and South Georgia Islands climate.
IN THIS POST: Antarctica Climate
Antarctic Peninsula Weather
Drake Passage Weather
South Georgia Island Weather
Falkland Islands Weather
Antarctica Climate Change & Travel
Antarctica Weather Forecast
The climate of Antarctica is the coldest on Earth. Antarctica is the coldest, driest and windiest continent on Earth. The average temperature of the interior is about -71 degrees Fahrenheit. The coast is warmer with average temperatures about 14 degrees F.
Antarctica is technically a desert with less than 6.5 inches of average precipitation. Because very little snow melts, it builds up into glaciers and ice caps. Coastal Antarctica receives more snow and some rain, with precipitation up to 20 or more inches per year. The air is dry with low temperatures resulting in low humidity.
The weather in Antarctica is highly variable. Conditions can change dramatically over short periods of time. Antarctica is also vast, and weather will depend on where you are on the continent.
Most travelers will visit the Antarctic Peninsula, so we’ll focus our attention to Arctic weather in this region as well as other popular spots.
Summer in Antarctica, especially the Antarctic Peninsula climate, can be surprisingly mild. Antarctic Peninsula temperature averages 33-36 degrees F in the summer. Antarctic Peninsula temperatures can reach into the 50s F during summer, the height of the travel season.
Antarctica Climate by Region
Below find climate tables with average temperatures, rainfall and daylight for common travel regions including the Antarctic Peninsula, the South Shetland Islands, South Georgia Island, the Falkland Islands and Ushuaia, Argentina. Find Antarctica climate tables with average temperature, rainfall and daylight for each region. Below the temperature tables, find a detailed description of each Antarctic region’s climate. Climate information is geared for travelers interested in a trip to Antarctica.
|Avg. High (F)||36||34||32||33||28||29||24||22||25||29||32||34|
|Avg. Low (F)||33||28||26||24||22||19||15||16||17||22||25||29|
Antarctica Peninsula Climate & Weather for Travelers
The Antarctic Peninsula protrudes 810 miles north from West Antarctica toward South America. It is the most northly part of the Antarctic continent and reaches north of the Antarctic Circle.
The coastline of the ice-covered peninsula consists of a string of bedrock islands separated by deep channels, perfect for expedition cruises. The Antarctic Peninsula is about 620 miles from Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost tip of South America.
The Antarctic Peninsula climate is considerably more mild than interior Antarctica. Its northern latitude and the moderating influence of the sea make the climate of the Antarctica Peninsula the mildest within the continent. The area is considered to have a maritime Antarctic climate.
The west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula is much warmer than the east coast or Weddell Sea side. This is reflected in the existence of ice shelves on the eastern side, which are home to colonies of Emperor penguins.
Weather in the Antarctic Peninsula can vary from warm sunny days in the summer to cold dark blizzards in the winter. During the summer travel season, expect Antarctic Peninsula temperatures from 10-30 degrees F. Antarctic Peninsula weather during summer is unpredictable. It is best to be ready for all conditions from cold winter-like conditions to mild spring-like days.
Weather in the South Shetland Islands, which are located about 65 miles north of the Peninsula, is slightly more mild than weather on the Antarctic Peninsula. Being completely surrounded by the sea keeps coastal temperatures more mild, especially during the summer.
Drake Passage Weather
To say that Drake Passage weather is unpredictable is an understatement. Much of the weather throughout the southern hemisphere is generated in the Southern Ocean. The Drake Passage is at the crossroads of the Atlantic, Pacific and Southern Seas. Circumpolar open water and mixing currents, combined with strong winds and varying temperatures, create a volatile mix of weather and ocean conditions in the Drake Passage.
During the summer travel season, expect windy conditions and rough seas. Passengers heading across the Drake Passage can expect temperatures ranging from 41 degrees F in the north to 26 degrees in the south. Expect cloudy, misty conditions and enjoy the sun when it does come out.
Drake Passage Waves
Many travelers are understandably concerned about the sea conditions and Drake Passage waves. The above Drake Passage weather conditions can make for famously rough seas. Drake Passage wave height can range from 3 feet to nearly 40 feet. Learn more about the best month to cross the Drake Passage.
Predicting wave conditions before your trip can be a fool’s errand as Drake Passage weather forecasts are unpredictable more than a day or two out. But it can be fun to check Drake Passage waves in advance, or any time of year. Here is a resource used by ship captains to monitor and forecast Drake Passage waves, wind and weather.
|Avg. High (F)||29||33||30||26||22||21||20||19||23||25||26||27|
|Avg. Low (F)||25||25||22||16||11||6||5||7||12||17||21||23|
South Shetland Islands Climate & Weather for Travelers
The South Shetland Islands are an archipelago located about 65 nautical miles north of the Antarctic Peninsula. They are often the first Antarctic islands visited aboard Antarctic cruises.
The South Shetland Islands climate is cloudy and humid with strong winds year-round. Being close to the peninsula the climate in South Shetland Islands is similar. Because the islands are surrounded by water, the weather is milder.
Average summer temperature in the South Shetland Islands is about 35 degrees F and 23 degrees F in the winter. Glaciers and ice have retreated in recent years but still covers about 80% of the islands.
|Avg. High (F)||46||48||46||42||37||33||33||35||39||41||44||46|
|Avg. Low (F)||33||35||33||30||26||23||23||23||26||28||30||32|
South Georgia Island Climate & Weather for Travelers
South Georgia Island and the South Sandwich Islands are subantarctic islands in the Southern Atlantic Ocean. South Georgia Island cruises are famous for massive colonies of King penguins, seals and other polar wildlife.
South Georgia Island climate is classified as subpolar, consisting of cool summers and very cold winters. South Georgia Island weather is harsh and highly variable. High temperatures at sea level average 32 degrees F in winter and 46 degrees F in summer. Annual precipitation averages about 60 inches, mainly falling as sleet and snow. South Georgia Island is exposed to consistent westerly winds, which can bring rain or snow any time of year.
During the Austral summer, when cruises occur, travelers can expect warmer weather on South Georgia Island. Expect average high temperatures in the mid 40s F and occasionally reaching into the 60s. Precipitation is lowest in the summer averaging just over 3 inches each month. Located at 54.4 degrees South latitude, South Georgia Island has long summer days with about 16 hours of sunlight.
|Avg. High (F)||55||55||53||49||44||41||39||41||44||48||51||53|
|Avg. Low (F)||41||42||41||38||34||32||32||32||32||35||37||40|
Falkland Islands Climate & Weather for Travelers
The Falkland Islands, also known as Islas Malvinas, is an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean. They are located about 300 miles east of the Patagonia coast of South America.
The Falkland Islands climate is maritime, characterized by cool summers and mild winters with a narrow annual temperature range. The climate in the Falkland Islands is strongly influenced by the cool Patagonia current. While the Falklands are in the sub-Antarctic zone the average monthly low temperature does not drop below 27 degrees F. Summer average temperatures reach as high as 50 degrees F. Consistent westerly winds occur year-round averaging 16 knots.
Falkland Island cruises are known for penguins and colonial English culture and are often combined with a voyage to Antarctica. Summer travelers can expect average daytime temperatures around 60 decrees F with a fair amount of sunshine. Summers are dry, but constantly windy, which makes it feel cooler than it is. Be prepared for abrupt changes in Falkland Islands weather.
|Avg. High (F)||59||57||54||49||43||40||40||43||48||52||55||56|
|Avg. Low (F)||36||42||41||36||32||29||29||30||32||36||39||41|
Ushuaia Climate & Weather For Travelers
Ushuaia, Argentina, is a port town in Southern Argentina at the tip of Tierra del Fuego. It is generally recognized as the southernmost city in the world. Ushuaia is the gateway to Antarctica and the embarkation port for many Antarctica cruises. Learn more about Ushuaia and how to get to Antarctica.
Ushuaia climate is subpolar oceanic characterized by cold winters and cool summers. Temperatures in Ushuaia average 34 degrees F in mid-winter and 50 degrees F in mid-summer. During the summer travel season visitors can expect cloudy and windy conditions. Summer highs reach the mid 50s F and low 40s F at night. Winters are cold with frequent snow, sleet and rain showers. Snow is common in winter and can occur throughout the year.
Antarctica Climate Change & Travel
According to the British Antarctica Survey, over the past 50 years, the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula has been one of the most rapidly warming parts of the planet. Antarctica has experienced air temperature increases of 5.4 degrees F C in the Antarctic Peninsula. Although that might not seem very much, it is 5 times the mean rate of global warming as reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Climate change in Antarctica is causing changes to the Antarctic Peninsula. The distribution and size of penguin colonies has changed. Melting of snow and ice has increased the colonization of plants and even some invasive species. Marine environments and the abundance of krill may be affected. Glaciers and ice shelves have retreated.
The typical traveler would not notice the changes described above. The Antarctic Peninsula, to the casual observer, still appears rugged, wild and pristine. Travelers should be aware of the issues and challenges of this region and the impact of Antarctica travel. Most Antarctica expedition cruises will tackle this subject head on by educating travelers about climate change in Antarctica and its affects on the environment.
Rather than take a doomsday approach to see it before it’s gone, we hope you will visit and fall in love. Only when you love a place are you motivated to protect it. Changing our behavior to help reduce climate change to protect Antarctica and its penguins and icescapes will do us all some good.
Checking the Antarctica Weather Forecast Before Your Trip
Many travelers incessantly check the daily weather in Antarctica as their trip approaches. We advise you to resist this temptation, it will only drive you crazy. Forecasts are astoundingly inaccurate and Antarctica weather changes by the hour. Checking daily forecasts does little to help you prepare.
Stick to the broad guidelines above and as previously stated, follow the advice of your packing lists. Checking the Antarctica weather before your trip will only serve to frustrate your preparations and offers little insight into what conditions will be like when you arrive.
If you must, we have provided the current Antarctica weather forecast below.ANTARCTICA WEATHER
MORE ANTARCTICA RESOURCES:
Antarctica Travel Guide
Luxury Antarctica Cruises
Falkland Islands & South Georgia Cruises
Cruises with Flights to Antarctica
Best Time to Visit Antarctica
Antarctica Cruise Cost
How to Get to Antarctica
Things to Do in Antarctica
Places in Antarctica
Can You Visit Antarctica?
Best Antarctica Cruise Lines
Antarctica Cruise Deals
Antarctica Cruise Reviews