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Antarctica Temperature: Life in the Freezer!

Spinning Yarn|Face FreezeAntarctica is the coldest, harshest, highest, windiest, driest, and iciest continent on Earth. Much of the continent is more than 3 kilometers (2mi) above sea level, and temperature decreases with elevation.

Temperatures in winter can drop below - 73°C (-100F). reaching a minimum of between −80 °C and −90 °C in the interior. In summer, near the coast, the maximum temperature is between 5 °C and 15 °C , while on the great East Antarctica icecap it is -30°C . The lowest ever temperature recorded was at the Russian Vostok station. : -129°C on July 21, 1983

The low temperatures mean that little or no water vapour is held in the air: instead, it condenses directly out of the atmosphere and forms tiny ice crystals which then fall, or builds up on surfaces, as frost.

The Antarctic continent is far from hospitable. A combination of freezing temperatures, poor soil quality, lack of moisture, and lack of sunlight inhibit plant growth. Add in winds reaching 192 mph. Winter pack ice extends over 620 miles around the continent, it is almost permanently dark and temperatures can drop to as low as -90°C .

Offshore, temperatures are also low enough that ice is formed from seawater through most of the year. While the water would be anything but warm if you jumped into it, it is at least around 30 degrees F – it's salt water and stays liquid at a lower temperature than fresh water.
 
Air of different temperatures refracts light in different ways. When there is a strong temperature contrast near the ground, light can be bent or reflected, thus distorting the shape of distant objects. The difference in temperature causes a reflection downwards just above the level of the horizon so that objects on the Spinning Yarn|pancakeshorizon appear to be floating above the sea or ice rather than resting on it. The same phenomena is responsible for "heat haze" as seen above a road on a very hot day.

Such phenomena are usually encountered in the winter when lower Antarctica temperatures make such occurrences more likely.

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Photo Courtesy
OTAGO DAILY TIMES, New Zealand

 

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