The Antarctic Climate

  1. J. C. F. Tedrow
  1. William S. Weyant

Published Online: 14 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/AR008p0047

Antarctic Soils and Soil Forming Processes

Antarctic Soils and Soil Forming Processes

How to Cite

Weyant, W. S. (1966) The Antarctic Climate, in Antarctic Soils and Soil Forming Processes (ed J. C. F. Tedrow), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D. C.. doi: 10.1029/AR008p0047

Author Information

  1. Environmental Science Services Administration, Washington, D.C.

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 14 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1966

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781118655801

Online ISBN: 9781118668719



  • Antarctic climate;
  • Pack-ice boundaries;
  • Radiation budget;
  • Soil areas;
  • Temperature regime;
  • Water mass budget


The general climatological characteristics of Antarctica result from its high latitude and high altitude and from the land-sea distribution of the southern hemisphere. The continent may be divided into three broad climatic zones: the interior plateau, the slopes, and the coastal region. The high central plateau, the coldest area of the earth, is characterized by low temperatures, very light snowfall, and generally light winds. On the surrounding slopes, cloudiness and snowfall are greater and strong winds with blizzards more frequent. On the coast, precipitation and cloudiness are still greater, temperatures are higher, and winds are generally strong, particularly near the foot of steep slopes. Soil areas are found along the coast as rocky beaches, snow-free only in summer, and in terrain-shielded areas called antarctic oases, such as the dry valleys of the McMurdo Sound region and the Bunger Hills area of East Antarctica. Because of a different radiation balance, and especially because of the greatly different albedo (reflectivity) of snow in comparison with exposed soil, the soil areas have a local climatology different from their snow-covered environs, being generally warmer and drier, with less cloudiness and precipitation. A few soil-temperature measurements indicate that the depth of permafrost ranges from a few centimeters to over 2 meters (at Mirnyy), with the maximum depth of thaw in late January.