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Weather Talk: South Pole the coldest place on earth

The story of the attempt to rescue a scientist from the Amundsen-Scott station at the South Pole has generated many questions about the winter climate at the South Pole. The South Pole is much colder than the North Pole because the North Pole is ...

2619888+South Pole Bobbushphoto iStock.jpg
Antartica. Bobbushphoto/iStockphoto.com

The story of the attempt to rescue a scientist from the Amundsen-Scott station at the South Pole has generated many questions about the winter climate at the South Pole. The South Pole is much colder than the North Pole because the North Pole is a frozen ocean whereas Antarctica is a mountainous continent. The South Pole is on a glacial plateau 9,300 feet above sea level and is surrounded by even higher mountains.  This traps cold air and creates the coldest weather on Earth. During the six-month winter (March โ€“ September), there is total darkness and brutal cold.  Temperatures are typically in the -50s and -60s with cold snaps down into the -100s. During Antarctic summer, temperatures are typically in the -40s and -50s with occasional milder spells to near zero. At the South Pole, over 50 years of weather record has yielded a record high of 10 degrees and a record low of 117 below. 

John Wheeler is Chief Meteorologist for WDAY, a position he has had since May of 1985. Wheeler grew up in the South, in Louisiana and Alabama, and cites his family's move to the Midwest as important to developing his fascination with weather and climate. Wheeler lived in Wisconsin and Iowa as a teenager. He attended Iowa State University and achieved a B.S. degree in Meteorology in 1984. Wheeler worked about a year at WOI-TV in central Iowa before moving to Fargo and WDAY..
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