Last six months, Antarctica had the coldest temperature on record. According to NSIDC, from April to September, the average temperature was 60.9 degrees Celsius for the polar darkness period. At the South Pole, the last six months are the darkest period which is where the name polar darkness comes from. Around spring equinox here, the sun sets for the last time and does not rise again until near the autumn equinox six months later.
The winter for the entire Antarctic continent was the 2nd coldest on record for 2021. Temperatures for June, July, and August 3.4 degrees Celsius lower than the 1981 to 2010 average. The unusual cold was due to two extended periods of stronger-than-average encircling winds around the continent. This isolates the ice sheets from the warmer conditions.
A strong upper-atmosphere polar vortex and a significant ozone hole were observed. In the South Pole, even in the austral summer months of November through February, it never gets warm. The National Science Foundation said that on science support from the South Pole, the winter temperatures had minimal impact because most of the fieldwork occurs in the austral summer. The National Science Foundation runs the US Antarctic program. But polar environments are still challenging.
It is essential to understand whether it is different from climate. Over a short period, what happens is called weather, and what happens over a more extended period is called climate. Even if the globe is warmer than average, some areas will still have cold temperatures. This regional variation is because of the oceans, mountains, deserts, ice sheets, and other geographic features affecting climate and weather. It’s also from changes in weather patterns related to the jet stream’s position, which can vary from day to day or even month to month. From the research point of view, the recent winter stretch from June-August is exciting, but what Antarctica is doing doesn’t reflect in the long term.
What is happening to one pole does not mean it will happen to another pole. Antarctic sea ice has been above average the last few months because of extreme cold near the South Pole. It peaked in late August. In the satellite record, it reached the 5th highest.
Near the North Pole, the ice has done the opposite. Near the North Pole, the summer of 2021 was relatively cool compared to many recent years. And because of this, the September ice extent was the highest since 2014. For September, the Arctic sea ice extent averaged 1.90 million square miles, and it was the 12th lowest in 43 years of records. What is happening in the poles does not mean it is happening throughout the Earth. Global temperatures in the past 150 years have risen by about 1.1 degrees on average.
Different parts of the world have warmed to varying rates because of natural variations in the climate system. Compared to anywhere else, Earth’s poles have warmed faster because of melting ice and snow. Antarctica had cold winter this year, but the most northern parts of Antarctica have warmed five times faster than the global average over the past few decades.