Why Is the South Pole Colder Than the North Pole and By How Much On Average?

The South Pole is considerably colder than the North Pole.

At about 56 degrees Fahrenheit below zero, the average temperature at the South Pole is about 35 degrees lower than the average at the North Pole.

The coldest weather on record was minus 129 degrees, recorded at Vostok, Antarctica, on July 21, 1983.

There are at least two reasons for the colder temperatures at the South Pole.

The observing station is on a plateau at an elevation of about 12,000 feet.

At that height, there is less air to hold in the heat from solar radiation, and most of it is re-radiated as soon as the sun goes down.

Also, the South Pole is surrounded by the large snowy continent of Antarctica, not just the smaller ice pack around the North Pole, so very little radiation from the sun is retained at the earth’s surface there.

Most of the radiation, or about 80 percent, is reflected away by the perpetual snow cover.