Cold Antarctica and what this might mean for NZ’s ski season

Warren Maxwell in Antarctica
16 June 2021

This winter Antarctica is freezing, no surprises there– but it’s colder than usual. As midwinter approaches on Monday, Antarctica is two degrees away from recording its coldest temperature ever!

Our Chief Scientific Advisor Professor John Cottle explains

This week the temperature at (Dome Fuji Station) – that’s (2400km) away from Scott Base, plunged to -81.7C (record is -83.0C),

These temperatures are being caused by positive SAM (Southern Annular Mode) and a strong polar vortex.

Southern Annular Mode - also known as the Antarctic Oscillation, is the label given to the way the Southern Ocean westerlies and storms move around in the oceans surrounding Antarctica.

SAM has two states, negative and positive, and we’re currently in positive.

It’s good news for this year’s sea ice, and will mean lots of sea ice growth. Sea ice is frozen ocean water that floats on top of the sea.

So what does this mean for NZ?

It’s not great news for our ski fields unfortunately, it might surprise you to know that as the mercury drops in Antarctica, the more stable and milder the weather is in New Zealand!

Check out this page about SAM from our friends at NIWA