Bureau of Meteorology


The BOM Blog gives you the background and insider info on weather, climate, oceans, water and space weather—as well as the latest on the work of the Bureau.


We welcome participation in the comments section of our blog; however, we are not able to respond to all comments and questions and your comments may take a little time to appear. The blog is monitored from 9 am to 5 pm Monday–Friday.

Our community includes people of all ages and backgrounds and we want this to be a safe and respectful environment for all. To keep the discussion interesting and relevant, please:

  • respect other people and their opinions;
  • keep your comments on topic and succinct;
  • say why you disagree or agree with someone;
  • comment constructively—in a way that adds value to the discussion.

When commenting, please don't:

  • make defamatory, libellous, false or misleading comments;
  • use obscene, insulting, racist, sexist or otherwise discriminatory or offensive language;
  • post personal information about yourself or others, such as private addresses or phone numbers;
  • promote commercial interests;
  • violate the intellectual property rights of others;
  • violate any laws or regulations;
  • provoke others, distort facts or misrepresent the views of others; or
  • post multiple versions of the same view or make excessive postings on a particular issue.

We won’t publish comments that are not in line with these standards. Blocking/removal of content or banning of users is at our discretion.

There is no endorsement, implied or otherwise, by the Bureau of any material in the comments section. Users are fully responsible for the content they submit.

Commenting is available via a Facebook plugin, which can only be accessed by those with Facebook accounts.

You can contact us at bomblog@bom.gov.au.

Copyright | Disclaimer | Privacy


Contact our social media team at socialmedia@bom.gov.au

Frozen forecasts: meteorology in Antarctica

Frozen forecasts: meteorology in Antarctica

You probably know the Bureau's weather services cover Australia, but did you know our reach stretches further south—nearly as far south as you can go—to Antarctica? So what is the weather really like down there, why does it matter and just what are we doing there?

From the days when Griffith Taylor (an ex-Bureau officer) represented the 'weather service' on Scott's Terra Nova Expedition from 1910–13, the Bureau has had a connection to the important weather and climate work done in Antarctica. However, our ongoing history with Antarctica and the Australian Antarctic Program began with the establishment of the first Antarctic and sub-Antarctic research stations almost 70 years ago.

Image: An AAD staff member drills sea ice to measure its thickness, beneath a sun halo. Credit: Barry Becker

Image: An AAD staff member drills sea ice to measure its thickness. Credit: Barry Becker

Who’s in Antarctica—and why?

Around 17 Bureau staff—observational, technical and forecasting—work across the four Australian stations: Casey, Mawson, Davis, and Macquarie Island. Forecasters assist with aviation operations such as resupply trips and research flights, as well as providing forecasts for each of the research stations, field camps and Southern Ocean but their work also contributes to services for the mainland. These include activities that support marine and atmospheric weather, warnings for tsunamis and abnormally high tides, and even space weather (which can affect satellite systems and communications).

Image: A Royal Australian Air Force plane drops fresh food, medical supplies and mail to expeditioners at Davis station. Credit: Barry Becker

Image: A Royal Australian Air Force plane drops fresh food, medical supplies and mail to expeditioners at Davis station. Credit: Barry Becker

Our staff are spread across the research stations:

  • Mawson—one technical officer and one observational officer;
  • Davis—one technical officer, two observational officer and two forecasters;
  • Casey—one technical officer, two observational officers and three forecasters; and
  • Macquarie Island—one technical officer and two observational officers.

On top of this, one or two people are assigned to assist with project work and a forecaster joins the crew of the Aurora Australis as it makes resupply trips to Macquarie Island.

The technical and observational staff cover winter as part of a 12-month placement and the forecasters cover summer for around four months.

What's the weather like?

No surprises here; it’s nippy. And gusty—but it varies depending on where you are.


Mawson is at the bottom of a steep escarpment on the edge of the Antarctic Plateau, with a climate dominated by cold ‘katabatic’ winds, streaming downslope through the effects of gravity. On average Mawson has the highest wind speed of all the Bureau's monitoring sites. With an average annual wind speed of 39 km/h, speeds are twice as high here as in Melbourne; three times higher than Darwin, Sydney or Hobart; and four to five times higher than Brisbane, Adelaide or Perth. The average maximum temperature here is –8.4 °C, while the average minimum is –14.3 °C.


Further south, Davis is in an ice-free area known as the Vestfold Hills, a popular hiking area for staff in their time off and a key factor in the local climate. Davis is the warmer summer location and is affectionately known as the ‘Riviera of the South’ because the bare rocks of the Vestfold Hills heat up substantially under the 24-hour summer sun. The average November–March maximum is a relatively balmy –0.5 °C, with the warmest temperature recorded for the same period being 13 °C! Davis also holds the record for the coldest temperature recorded at an Australian station, a seriously chilled –41.8 °C.


Next is Casey, just outside of the Antarctic Circle with recorded temperatures ranging from
–37 °C to 9 °C. The wind usually blows at a gentle 20km/h, but recordings of wind gusts have measured an impressive 291km/h. Even cooler (if daylight’s not your thing)—during the start of winter the station sees sunshine for less than an hour a day.

Macquarie Island

The last station is on an isolated speck of rock in the middle of the Southern Ocean—Macquarie Island (also known as ‘Macca’). Located in the 'furious fifties' latitude belt between Australia and Antarctica, the weather is warmer due to the influence of the surrounding water, but the island is buffeted by frequent gales and rain or snow showers. In fact it rains on average 316 days every year. Temperatures range from 3–7 °C and hit as low as –9 °C in the winter months.

Map: Antarctica showing the research stations where Bureau staff are located. Credit: AAD

Map: Antarctica showing the research stations where Bureau staff are located.
Credit: AAD

Working with the Australian Antarctic Division

We work closely with the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), the Australian Government division responsible for managing Australia’s presence on the continent, and conducting scientific research in Antarctica. This partnership sees us provide essential services in alignment with the Government's wider Antarctic vision.

One of the best ways we support the AAD is by placing our meteorologists in the field. Their first-hand knowledge of the local environment allows them to understand just how serious the weather can be. Ever try finding a ship that has magically disappeared into the fog? You've got to see it to believe it.

Image: The aurora australis over Davis Station in September 2017. Credit Barry Becker

Image: The aurora australis over Davis Station in September 2017. Credit Barry Becker

How 'cool' is it working in Antarctica?

It's pretty cool indeed—in both senses of the word! The Bureau recruits for assignments lasting up to 16 months; this is a preparation period of up to 4–6 months in Hobart—our Antarctic hub—before a 6–12 month placement in Antarctica.

Recruitment takes place from December–April and departures follow from October–March. You’ll find information on our Antarctic recruitment program and any current opportunities here.

The AAD also recruits for a range of roles in Antarctica. Recruitment opens in December and you can find more information here.

More information

Life on the ice: forecasting in Antarctica

Living and working in Antarctica (AAD)

Subscribe to this blog

Subscribe to this blog to receive an email alert when new articles are published.

Comment. Tell us what you think of this article.

Share. Tell others.