How far south can you go before it gets cold?

Just curious, at what point would one start feeling the effects of the South Pole? What are winters like in Australia or South Africa or the Falkland Islands? (I’ve never heard of those places being referred to as anything but warm and pleasant.) Or is the Antarctic region more localized than that?

The southernmost tip of South America can get pretty cold, IIRC. There isn’t nearly as much landmass in the southern temperate zone as there is in the Northern one, but apart from that, I think it should be pretty much symmetrical in terms of distance from the equator (taking into account the seasons of course).

Well, no, it’s not quite symmetrical because the larger area of ocean in the Southern Hemisphere tends to moderate the climate. Tasmania, the South Island of New Zealand, and southern South America all get quite cold (with snow at higher elevations), but are generally milder than equivalent latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere.

Yep, it depends more on the weather patterns/elevation/geography of where you are than the actual latitude. Oceans currents play a big role in that. In Alberta tonight there is snow; 1000km straight west (same latitude) on the West Coast they are probably walking around in shorts still. You could do a search for “South Africa winter temperatures” or something similar to get an idea of the actual temps of the different areas.

The Falklands are not warm.
If they were, there’d be cruises there, beach resorts, and more than an approximate 10/1 sheep/human ratio.

Depends where in the Northern Hemisphere. From a European perspective you’re comparing Patagonia or South Island with the South of France. The Falkland Islands are about the same latitude as London. To take an admittedly extreme example, the Antarctic peninsula terminates at about the same latitude as Reykjavík.

The reason South Africa has warm winters and hot summers is the same reason North Africa does; they’re at the same latitude.

Well just for the sake of argument I selected a few random cities from the US and compared them with cities in the southern hemisphere on similar latitudes. Results are as follows:

Little Rock   Summer 27 Winter 5
34o 45'
Beunos Aires  Summer 25 Winter 11
Adelaide      Summer 28 Winter 14
Struisbaai    Summer 29 Winter 16
New York      Summer 25 Winter .5
Launceston    Summer 16 Winter 6
Wellington    Summer 19 Winter -4
41o16 9

Los Angeles   Summer 22 Winter 14
Capetown      Summer 26 Winter 14
Sydney        Summer 24 Winter 12
Santiago      Summer 21 Winter 8.4

Interestingly it seems that when compared purely on the basis of latitude southern hemisphere cities may actually be slightly colder than northern, or at least US, cities. There’s certainly no evidence that they are any milder. Little Rock is anomalous in that is is the only non-coastal city on the list. Lacking the moderating maritime influence the climate is slightly more extreme.

This is of course a straw poll, but it just seems like northern hemisphere population centres are more likely to be at high latitudes, hence the belief that northern hemisphere locations are colder. Is there actually any evidence at all to support a belief that northern hemisphere climates are colder than comparable latitudes in the southern hemiphere?

Thanks for the replies. From Gaspode’s data, temperature patterns at the south and north are actually quite symmetrical, it’s just that there’s hardly any inhabitable land anywhere near the South Pole. I wonder if there are any surviving accounts by the sailors or explorers who first mapped out that region of the world.

Perhaps this book?

one factor that popped into my mind, that might explain if it was colder in the southern hemisphere in the winter and warmer in the summer… there’s the elliptical orbit of the earth… the earth is at its closest to the sun in Dcember, and at its farthest from the sun in June…
so logic would dictate that Aussie summer would be warmer than North American summer, and Aussie winter would be colder than N.A. winter.
Am I anywhere near on base with this?


Winter in Rio can be a bit chilly; no threat of snow, but the thongs are not on the beach. I suspect the farthest south on the west coast would be around Arequipa, Peru (never seen a thong there). North of this line should be pretty nice.

p.s. I’ve never summered in Vina del Mar, Chile, but I know it would be worth the airfare.

The change in distance between the earth and the sun is quite minimal in terms of difference of temperature. My bet is things like ocean currents and such have more of an effect than sun distance does.

Accounts of what? Inhabited land or climate. If you’re after innhabited land then the answer is yes there is inhabited land in South America quite a way south, it’s just not densely populated so it’s a little hard for me to get climate data from a quick Google search the way I can with cities with tourist information readily available. Launceston and Struisbaai are getting close to the physical southern extremities of Australia and Africa respectively so there’s not a whole lot south of them.

If you’re interested in climate data, there are weather stations on just about every speck of dry dirt in the South Pacific and Indian oceans. These areas aren’t on the moon, people visit them fairly regularly. You don’t need explorers accounts, you just need access to the data, which should be freely avaialble from the met bureaus of the countries conducting the research. I suspect the information is fairly widely shared so if you contact the US Dept. of Emvironment or whoever handles such things you could probably get the average temperatures for say, South Sandwich islands, for the last 30 years.

I must be bored (waiting for models to run is so much fun).

Heard Island Winter 2oC  Summer 6oC

Vancouver    Winter 3oC  Summer 17oC
49o 15'

So again the southern hemisphere is considerably colder than a corresponding latitude in the north. Of course Heard Island is a long way form the nearest landmass and subjected to the full influnnce of the Antarctic wether systems.

I feel obligated to point out that major cities produce their own warmth in the Winter months. Could this skew the results of the Heart Island/Vancouver or any other temperature comparisons?