Antarctica Temperatures

Long-term air temperature records at 13 stations (all polar research bases) in Antarctica have been extracted from the website of KNMI (Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute).  The KNMI database has records up to late 2015. 

 antarctica map

These are all raw data, without any adjustments ever having been made (as far as I am aware).  Only stations with records over a period of at least 50 years, with largely complete and post-2010 records were selected.  Eleven of the stations are located in coastal areas of the continent and of these three are located on the more northerly Antarctic Peninsula (south of South America).  Two stations are located at higher, inland locations including one station at the South Pole.  

I have not been able to make any quality checks on the data.  It is possible that there have been some changes in station locations and instrumentation over the periods of record, but sudden steps in the data and comparisons with other adjoining stations would be expected to identify any inconsistencies.

Antarctica Table

Graphical plots are presented below of annual mean temperatures at each of the 13 stations.  [ Annual mean temperatures are the average of the mean daily temperatures over each year (the mean daily temperatures are the average of the observed daily maximum and minimum temperatures). ]    A polynomial trend line was fitted through each of the sets of data.

Similar analyses were made of the 12 mean monthly temperatures at each location.  These showed that there are seasonal variations in the temperature trends.  Also, the sample size was greater than for the annual analyses (when data were only used if  complete years of data were available).  These monthly analyses will be presented in later posts.

 A more detailed analysis of the temperature trends at Mawson may be seen at:


Halley (UK), Antarctica     48 complete years of data, 1956-2015



Novolazarevsk (Russia), Antarctica      30 complete years, 1961-2015  



Syowa (Japan), Antarctica      44 complete years of data, 1957-2015



Mawson (Australia), Antarctica      55 complete years of data, 1952-2015



Davis (Australia), Antarctica      47 complete years of data, 1957-2015



Mirnyj (Russia), Antarctica        42 complete years of data, 1956-2015  



Casey (Australia), Antarctica      47 complete years of data, 1957-2015



Dumont d’Urville (France), Antarctica       45 complete years of data, 1950-2015



Vostok (Russia), Antarctica        32 complete years of data, 1958-2015



Amundsen-Scott (USA), Antarctica        42 complete years of data, 1954-2015



Rothera (UK), Antarctica        44 complete years of data, 1946-2015



Faraday/Vernadsky (UK/Ukraine), Antarctica        53 complete years of data, 1944-2015



Esperanza (Argentina), Antarctica        48 complete years of data, 1945-2015





Apart from at the three stations located on the Antarctic Peninsula, none of the records at the other ten stations show any consistent trend to either increase or decrease significantly over the past 50 years. 

The three stations located on the Antarctic Peninsula all have increasing temperatures over the past 60-70 years, although there are differences in magnitude.  The mean annual increase varies from about 1.5ºC/century (at Esperanza) to about 3ºC/century at Rothera.   It  is possible that these three stations are affected by changing wind patterns, ocean currents or volcanic activity that don’t affect the more southerly stations.

The effectively zero temperature trends for the main regions of the Antarctic continent are interesting and possibly significant.  In most regions of the world there have been a well-defined, but not alarming, increase (of less than 1ºC/century) in mean annual temperature over the past 100-150 years but, for the main land mass of Antarctica, such a trend cannot be identified in the records of the past 60-70 years.



This post was written by Brian Gunter of Narooma, NSW. In his previous life Brian was an engineering hydrologist involved over many years in the analysis of rainfall and river flow data for the planning of water resources projects in Australia, Asia and Africa. In recent years he has been one of the Marine Rescue NSW (previously Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol) volunteer weather observers who operate the Narooma station for the Bureau of Meteorology.





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