The 17-year (1982–1998) trend in surface temperature shows a general cooling over the Antarctic continent, warming of the sea ice zone, with moderate changes over the oceans. Warming of the peripheral seas is associated with negative trends in the regional sea ice extent. Effects of the Southern Hemisphere Annular Mode (SAM) and the extrapolar Southern Oscillation (SO) on surface temperature are quantified through regression analysis. Positive polarities of the SAM are associated with cold anomalies over most of Antarctica, with the most notable exception of the Antarctic Peninsula. Positive temperature anomalies and ice edge retreat in the Pacific sector are associated with El-Niño episodes. Over the past two decades, the drift towards high polarity in the SAM and negative polarity in the SO indices couple to produce a spatial pattern with warmer temperatures in the Antarctic Peninsula and peripheral seas, and cooler temperatures over much of East Antarctica.