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Antarctica, Weather Terminology
What makes Antarctica so Cold?

Antarctica Expedition 2003 - Polar Pioneer at Anchor

Antarctica is the coldest place on earth and temperatures vary from place to place. Interestingly, the South Pole is not the coldest part of the continent. The lowest temperature ever recorded on earth's surface was -128.6F (-89.6C) at Russia's Vostok Station on July 21, 1983.

Weather at Palmer Station
Temperature & Wind Chill Calculators
Weather & Ice Terminology
Antarctica Weather - Continent Map

Antarctica is synonymous with cold, thanks to its polar location, its high elevation, its lack of a protective, water-vapor-filled atmosphere and its permanent ice cover, which reflects about 80% of the sun's radiation back into space.

Palmer Station (USA)

Weather at Palmer Station

Palmer Station is located at 6446'S, 6403'W, on a protected harbor on the southwestern coast of Anvers Island off the Antarctica Peninsula. Palmer is the only U.S. Antarctic station north of the Antarctic Circle. The temperature is mild, with monthly averages ranging from minus 10C in July and August to 2C in January and February. The annual mean is minus 3C. The extreme range is minus 31C to 9C.

Click for Palmer Station, Antarctica Forecast

The station, built on solid rock, consists of two major buildings and three small ones, plus two large fuel tanks, a helicopter pad, and a dock. Construction was completed in 1968, replacing a prefabricated wood structure ("Old Palmer,'' established in 1965) two kilometers away across Arthur Harbor. Old Palmer has been disassembled and removed from Antarctica. Somewhat over 40 people can occupy Palmer in the summer. Wintering population is about 10, although Palmer does not have a long period of winter isolation as do McMurdo and South Pole.

Palmer Station is named for Nathaniel B. Palmer, a Connecticut sealer who, on 17 November 1820, during an exploratory voyage ranging southward from the South Shetland Islands, may have been the first person to see Antarctica. (British and Russian ships were in the area at about the same time.)

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Temperature & Wind Chill Calculators

The calculators below are provided for general use and SHOULD NOT be used for actual weather forecasting, please rely on NOAA Weather Radio or commercial broadcasts for the latest warnings and advisories. Commercial, aviation, marine, etc.  should use standard or official weather forecast sources. No information on this page has been endorsed or approved by Eco-Photo Explorers.

Use the Temperature calculator below to convert Fahrenheit into its Celsius equivalent or visa versa or use the Wind Speed and Pressure Conversion Calculators below to convert into its equivalent reading.

What is Wind Chill?

Wind Chill is a measure of the cooling effect of wind. Wind increases the rate at which a body loses heat, so the air on a windy day feels cooler than the temperature indicated by a thermometer. This heat loss can be calculated for various combinations of wind speed and air temperature and then converted to a wind chill equivalent temperature (or wind chill factor). Use the Wind Chill Calculator below to calculate and see how wind speed and air temperature effects wind chill.
 

Temperature Conversion
Calculator

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Fahrenheit

Equivalent
Celsius

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Celsius

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Fahrenheit

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Wind Chill
Calculator

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Wind Speed (mph)
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Air Temp (F)



Equivalent
Wind Chill (F)
 

Wind Speed
Conversion

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MPH

    

Pressure
Conversion

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Weather & Ice Terminology

Anchor Ice:
Submerged ice which is attached to the sea bottom.

Antarctic Convergence:
The region where colder Antarctic seas meet the warmer waters of the northern oceans. This is often called the Polar Front.

Bergy Bit:
A piece of floating ice rising between 1 to 5 meters above the water.

Blizzards:
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.

Blizz Static:
An electrical charge that builds up because of the dry atmosphere, high winds and blowing snow during a blizzard.

Brash Ice:
The remains of large pieces of ice crashing into each other and forming a large heaping pile.

Fast Ice:
Sea ice attached to the shore or between grounded ice bergs.

Frazil Ice:
Needle-shaped ice crystals that form a icy slush in the water.

Frost Smoke: Condensed water vapor that forms a mist when it moves over open water in cold weather.

Grease Ice:
The stage at which the water gets a matte looking appearance when its between freezing and frazil ice.

Hummock:
An area where ice floes have rafted or piled up on top of each other, often reaching heights several yards.

Ice Blink:
A lighter section underneath the clouds which indicates reflecting light off the ice below. This technique was used by many early explorers to help steer them away from ice packs.

Ice Window:
The short summer season when the fast ice has broken away to allow ships to come close to the Antarctic coastline.

Katabatic Wind:
Katabatic winds occur where cold, heavy air flows down the slopes the inland mountains and the ice plateau. This is a frequent phenomenon as the continent is domed shaped and the interior is very cold. As surface flow, these winds may be smooth and low in velocity, but there are many times when they becomes exceedingly turbulent, sweeping up any loose snow in their path. This fierce, turbulent air may suddenly just appear and produce localized Antarctic blizzards where the skies are still clear and no snow actually falls to the ground.

Lead:
A section of open water within pack ice and large ice floes.

Nilas:
Thin crust of floating ice that bends in the waves, but does not break. The darker in appearance, the thinner the nilas is.

Pancake Ice:
Discs of young ice, formed when waves jostle them against each other rounding their edges.

Solar Energy:
Because of the tilt of the earth's axis relative to its orbit around the sun, the sun doesn't shine at the South Pole for 6 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 because of the ice and snow covering Antarctica when the sun's rays do reach the ground most are reflected back into space.

Tide Crack:
A crack between sea ice and the shoreline. This crack is caused by the rise and fall of the tide and is usually to wide to cross safely.

Water Sky:
A dark section underneath the clouds which indicates open water below. This technique was used by many early explorers to help guide them while they tried to penetrate the ice pack.

Whiteouts:
Whiteouts are another peculiar Antarctica condition, in which there are no shadows or contrasts between objects. A uniformly gray or white sky over a snow-covered surface can yield these whiteouts, which cause a loss of depth perception - for both humans and wildlife.

Please email all questions or comments with this site to Technical Support.

- http://www.ecophotoexplorers.com/contacts.asp?subject=Technical Support#form

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Last Modified: December 21, 2009

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