Even for Antarctica, It Was a Cold Winter

Experts say it doesn't change the forecast for global warming
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 9, 2021 3:40 PM CDT
Antarctica Has Coldest 6 Months on Record
A map of the ozone hole over the South Pole is shown on Sept. 16. Scientists say the Southern Hemisphere ozone hole is larger than usual and has surpassed the size of Antarctica.   (AP Photo/European Space Agency, ESA)

Bucking the global trend, Antarctica just recorded its coldest six months on record. "For the polar darkness period, from April through September, the average temperature was -60.9 degrees Celsius (-77.6 degrees Fahrenheit)," the National Snow and Ice Data Center reported. During that period, the sun sets around the spring equinox and does not rise again for about six months, CNN reports. The British Antarctic Survey started tracking temperatures in 1957, per Accuweather, and hasn't recorded a winter so cold.

The center said unusually strong winds, which keep warmth away from the ice sheet, were a factor. "A strong upper-atmosphere polar vortex was observed as well, leading to a significant ozone hole," the center said. "The ozone hole appears to have peaked." For the Antarctic continent overall, it was the second-coldest winter on record, lagging only 2004's. None of this conflicts with the overall trend of a planet that's heating up, experts said, though this extreme cold was a bit of a surprise. The Northern Hemisphere had its second-hottest summer ever recorded, but Antarctica has defied worldwide climate and weather trends before.

"While the globe may be warmer than average as a whole, some areas will still observe colder temperatures and even severe cold outbreaks," said a climate scientist at Colorado State University. Weather can be affected by a series of factors, including the shifting jet stream, he said—"short-term variability," another expert called it. "One cold winter is interesting but doesn’t change the long-term trend, which is warming," said a professor of atmospheric sciences, per the Washington Post. (More Antarctica stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.