Climate and weather

View through an icy window towards containers stacked outside
It's best to be warm inside when the weather packs it in (Photo G Browning)
Wind turbine at sunsetExpeditioner walking in wind and snow towards buildingMoon shining on East Bay

Mawson’s climate is typical of much of the coast of East Antarctica where the ice cap falls steeply to sea level.  The main feature is the 'katabatic', or gravity wind which results from the 'drainage' of cold air down the steep slopes of the ice sheet from the high interior of the continent. 

Winds are predominantly from the east and south, the mean annual speed being 21 knots (almost 40 km/h.). Not infrequently prolonged periods of strong wind occur averaging over 50 knots, with maximum gusts during these times often exceeding 130-140 knots. Mean wind speed decreases seaward with distance from the icecap as the cold air loses its speed across the fast ice or sea off-shore.

As it lies south of the Antarctic Circle, the sun does not rise at Mawson for approximately six weeks from the first week in June and does not set for the same period from early December. During those six weeks in June and July, the day consists of a few hours of twilight.

This page was last updated on 21 February 2011.