Why Is The South Pole Cold?

The South Pole is the southernmost point on Earth and is located on the continent of Antarctica. The South Pole is known for its extreme cold temperatures, which can drop to as low as -130 degrees Fahrenheit (-90 degrees Celsius). In this article, we will explore the reasons why the South Pole is so cold.

Geographic Location

The South Pole is located at the southernmost point on Earth, and as such, it is closer to the Earth’s axis than any other location on the planet. This means that the South Pole receives less direct sunlight than any other place on Earth. The angle at which the sun’s rays hit the Earth’s surface at the South Pole is much shallower than at the equator, resulting in less solar energy reaching the ground.

The Earth’s Tilt

Another factor contributing to the extreme cold at the South Pole is the Earth’s tilt. The Earth is tilted on its axis at an angle of approximately 23.5 degrees. This means that during the summer months in the southern hemisphere, the South Pole is tilted towards the sun and receives more direct sunlight, resulting in slightly warmer temperatures. However, during the winter months, the South Pole is tilted away from the sun and receives very little direct sunlight, resulting in much colder temperatures.

The Antarctic Circumpolar Current

The Antarctic Circumpolar Current is a powerful ocean current that circles around Antarctica. This current helps to isolate Antarctica from warmer ocean waters, which helps to keep the continent cold. The Antarctic Circumpolar Current also helps to keep the ice in place, as it prevents warmer waters from melting the ice.

The Antarctic Ice Sheet

The Antarctic Ice Sheet is the largest ice sheet on Earth and covers an area of approximately 5.4 million square miles (14 million square kilometers). The thickness of the ice sheet at the South Pole is approximately 2.3 miles (3.7 kilometers). The ice sheet acts as a giant reflector, reflecting a significant amount of the sun’s energy back into space. This contributes to the cold temperatures at the South Pole.

Atmospheric Conditions

The atmospheric conditions at the South Pole also contribute to the extreme cold. Due to the lack of sunlight during the winter months, there is very little atmospheric heating, which results in very cold temperatures. The air at the South Pole is also very dry, which allows for the radiation of heat into space, further contributing to the cold temperatures.


In conclusion, the extreme cold temperatures at the South Pole can be attributed to a combination of factors, including its geographic location, the Earth’s tilt, the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, the Antarctic Ice Sheet, and atmospheric conditions. These factors work together to create a unique environment that is one of the coldest places on Earth.

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