Skip to main content
Email Print Share

The Land of Extremes

A glacier flowing through the Transantarctic Mountains.

Antarctica is the coldest continent. The world's record low temperature of minus 89.2 degrees Centigrade was recorded there. The mean annual temperature of the interior is minus 57 degrees Centigrade. The coast is warmer. Monthly means at McMurdo Station (which is on the coast) range from minus 28 degrees Centigrade in August to minus 3 degrees Centigrade in January. Along the Antarctic Peninsula, temperatures as high as 15 degrees Centigrade have been recorded.

Some coasts of Antarctica are the windiest places in the world. Winds on the Adelie Coast in the winter of 1912-1913 averaged 18 meters per second 64 percent of the time, and gusts have been recorded at nearly 90 meters per second.

The interior of Antarctica is the world's biggest desert, with the precipitation (if it were melted) averaging under 5 centimeters of water a year.

Don Juan Pond (center of picture) in the McMordo Dry Valleys.

Don Juan Pond (center of picture) in the McMordo Dry Valleys