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The Time in Antarctica

Tuesday, September 3, 2013 by — creator of Time Genie

Updated: Friday, March 11, 2016

Flag of Antarctica

Flag of Antarctica.

What is the time in Antarctica? What time zones are used at research stations in Antarctica?

Antarctica has numerous time zones since each country that operates a research station can choose a time zone of their choice.

Based on careful research, Time Genie provides you with the current time and date at 44 research stations in Antarctica.

Antarctica — Video

A short documentary about Shackleton and one of the greatest stories of survival.


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The South Pole and >Antarctica — How A Time Zone is Chosen

Time zones are, in theory, divided along lines of longitude. Every 15 degrees of longitude is considered another time zone. In Antarctica, choosing a time zone based on every 15 degrees of longitude does not make sense. In fact, almost any time zone can be chosen in Antarctica. Why? During the Antarctic winter, there is 24 hours of darkness. During the Antarctic summer, there is 24 hours of daylight. There is but a short time each year where there is actually a noticeable difference between day and night.

Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station, AntarcticaAt the South Pole research station known as Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station you really can choose any time zone because this is where all the lines of longitude meet (see image below). If you walk in a circle while at the South Pole (or swim in a circle at the North Pole) then you will walk (swim) through every time zone within seconds!

Although any time could be chosen at Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station and although this base is maintained by the USA, this base chooses to use the same time as Christchurch, New Zealand since most flights to the South Pole leave from Christchurch. Thus, for practical reasons, the time at the South Pole (Amundsen–Scott) is the same time zone as New Zealand. This helps create harmony between flights, communications, etc.

With the above realizations, the question still remains — How are time zones chosen at the numerous research stations in Antarctica?

Ultimately, most research stations in Antarctica choose to use a time zone that is the same as the locations from where their supplies come from. Other research stations choose to use a time zone that is the same as their home country. Research stations that use the same time zone as their home country are generally only used during the Antarctic summer — that is, nobody is there in the winter which subsequently makes using a time zone that is harmony with the location where your supplies come from less important.

Daylight saving time is used by stations when the location that serves them uses daylight saving time.

While the time zone used by many research stations in in Antarctica can be determined fairly easily, some research stations are more difficult and the time zone used may vary depending on the host country. Time Genie tries to confirm the time zone used by as many research stations as possible.

Unlike the South Pole which is solid land, the North Pole is comprised of floating ice packs in the Arctic Ocean. As a result, there are no weather nor research stations at the North Pole because they would essentially just float away. But if there were research stations at the North Pole, then the time zone chosen at the North Pole would follow similar rules as at the South Pole.

The lines of longitude meet at the South Pole
The lines of latitude and longitude meet at the South Pole — map copyright Time Genie.

Argentina

Research stations that use the same time as Argentina include:

Base Sobral, Belgrano II Base, Carlini Station, Charcot Island, Elephant Island, Esperanza Station, Fossil Bay, Orcadas Station, Port Lockroy, Rothera Station, San Martín Station, Signy Island, Sky Blu and Vicecomodoro Marambio Station.

Australian Antarctic Division

The Australian Antarctic Division states that Mawson Station is in the GMT +5 time zone. Zhongshan Station, due to its relative closeness to Mawson Station, uses the same time.

Casey Station is in the GMT +8 time zone which is the same time as in Perth, Australia.

Davis Station is in the GMT +7 time zone.

Chile

Research stations that use the same time as Chile include:

Base General Bernardo O’Higgins Riquelme, Bellingshausen Station, Capitan Arturo Prat Base, Great Wall Station, King Sejong Station, Palmer Station and Profesor Julio Escudero Base.

European Central Time

Research stations that use the same time as European Central Time (UTC/GMT +1) include:

Neumayer–Station III, Svea Research Station, Tor Research Station***, Troll Station*** and Wasa Research Station.

European Central Summer Time

Research stations that use the same time as European Central Summer Time (UTC/GMT +2) include:

Tor Research Station*** and Troll Station***

Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)

Research stations that use the same time as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) include:

Aboa Station, Maitri Station, Novolazarevskaya Station, Tor Research Station*** and Troll Station***.

New Zealand

Research stations that use the same time as New Zealand include:

Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station, McMurdo Station, Scott Base, Terra Nova Bay and Zucchelli Station.

Peter I Island

Peter I Island is uninhabited and in theory should be in the GMT -6 time zone. But Time Genie chooses to put Peter I Island in the GMT -4 time zone for Amateur Radio users who have requested this. The GMT -4 time zone is more convenient for expeditions going to Peter I Island and since only Amateur Radio users tend to visit Peter I Island, choosing the GMT -4 time zone does not affect anyone else.

Russia

Mirny Station and Vostok Station choose to use the same time as Yekaterinburg, Russia.

*** Tor Research Station and Troll Station

Tor Research Station and Troll Station follow a slightly different rule than most research stations in Antarctica and will actually use 3 time zones during the year. Read more about research stations in Norway.

Airports in Antarctica

Airports — or more appropriately airfields — in Antarctica tend to follow the same time zone as the research stations they serve and/or the location the airplanes depart from.

Pegasus Field and Williams Field uses the same time as Christchurch, New Zealand.

Teniente R. Marsh Airport uses the same time as time in Chile.

Wilkins Aerodrome uses the same time as Casey Station which is the same time as Perth, Australia.

Research and Sources Used By Time Genie

Argentina Research Stations:

Argentinian Antarctica (in Spanish, Antártida Argentina) is a sector of Antarctica which Argentina considers part of its National Territory. The Argentine Antarctic region, consisting of the Antarctic Peninsula and a triangular section extending to the South Pole, is delimited by the meridians 25º West and 74º West and the parallel 60º South latitude. Administratively, Argentine Antarctica is a department of the province of Tierra del Fuego, Antarctica, and South Atlantic Islands. The provincial authorities reside in Ushuaia and the Governor annually designates his delegate for the Antarctica region, which thus represents the civil power of the zone.

Australia Research Stations:

Information about Australian research stations can be found at the Australian Antarctic Division official web site.

Macquarie Island is not located on the Antarctic continent but it is far enough south to be managed by the Australian Antarctic Division. Technically Macquarie Island is located within the Australian state of Tasmania. Therefore, Macquarie Island is in the same time zone as Tasmania and observes daylight saving time.

China Research Stations:

On August 16, 2005, Time Genie received official confirmation from the Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administraion regarding the times for their research stations in the Antarctic. Zhongshan Station Station is UTC/GMT +5. The Great Wall Station Station is UTC/GMT -4. Neither stations observe summer time (daylight saving time).

Chile Research Stations:

According to the Chilean Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service (SHOA), an agency of the Chilean Navy and the agency that is the lawful keeper of time in Chile, the Chilean Antarctic Territory is UTC/GMT -4 during standard time and UTC/GMT -3 during daylight saving time.

The daylight saving time in Chile is often unpredictable and subject to change.

Finland:

On August 17, 2005, Time Genie received an email from Finnish Antarctic Research Program (FINNARP) informing us that the Aboa, the Finnish research station, uses Greenwich Meantime. The reason for this is due to the fact that Aboa is located only 13 degrees longitude from the Greenwich Meridian Line of 0 degrees longitude. Aboa is not occupied during the winter months.

Germany:

According to GAWSIS Station Information System, Neumayer Station is UTC/GMT +1.

India:

On December 27, 2005, Time Genie received a reply from a Radio Amateur (DJ7BA) confirming that both Maitri Station (India) and Novolazarevskaya Station (Russia), which are located only 4.5 km from each other, both use UTC/GMT throughout the year.

Italy:

On December 29, 2005, Time Genie received a reply from a Radio Amateur (DJ7BA) who had just made radio contact with a person at Terra Nova Bay. When asked what the current time was at the research station, the individual mentioned they used to the same time as New Zealand.

New Zealand:

On August 15, 2005, Time Genie received official confirmation from Antarctica New Zealand that Scott Base is in the exact same time zone as New Zealand in all respects, including daylight saving time.

Norway:

On February 5, 2014, Time Genie received official confirmation from the Norwegian Polar Institute regarding Tor Resarch Station and Troll Station.

Tor Research Station and Troll Station have slightly confusing time zone rules. Both research stations actually use 3 time zones throughout the year and in some ways, their switch between standard time and daylight saving time is in reverse.

With Tor Research Station and Troll Station, during the Antarctic summer (approximately November to March), Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is the time zone used. But, once the summer season ends and the crew is left alone, usually around the last week of February to the first week of March, both stations begin using the same time zone as Norway.

Once Tor Research Station amd Troll Station begin using the same time zone as Norway, there is a brief period from approximately the beginning of March until the last Sunday in March in which both stations use European Central Time (UTC/GMT +1).

From the last Sunday in March until the last Sunday in October, Tor Research Station and Troll Station use European Central Summer Time (UTC/GMT +2).

From the last Sunday in October until flights begin operating again in Antarctica, Tor Research Station and Troll Station use European Central Time (UTC/GMT +1). This time zone may only be used for about 7 to 14 days because once the flights start, Tor Research Station and Troll Station revert back to the using Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) until approximately the beginning of March when the cycle repearts itself.

Why do Tor Research Station and Troll Station do this? Simply put, during the Antarctic Summer, Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is used to co–ordinate with the locations from which supplies are coming from. During the Antarctic winter, the same time as Norway is used for easier communication with others in Norway.

Tor Research Station and Troll Station are the only locations that Time Genie knows of that use 3 time zones.

Although Tor Research Station and Troll Station officially uses 3 time zones, it is simply not possible to know exactly when Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and European Central Time (UTC/GMT +1) will start because the dates vary from year to year, depending on the weather and other conditions.

Without knowing the exact dates, Time Genie has chosen to simplify the time zone rules for Tor Research Station and Troll Station based on information and input received from the staff at the Norwegian Polar Institute:

  • GMT +1 — From March 1 to the last Sunday in March
  • GMT +2 — From the last Sunday in March until the last Sunday in October
  • GMT +1 — From the last Sunday in October until November 7
  • GMT 0 — From November 7 until March 1

What's also interesting is that normally daylight saving time, also known as summer time, is observed during the summer and standard time is observed during the winter. But for Tor Research Station and Troll Station, it is reversed. During the Antarctic winter, Tor Research Station and Troll Station use Central Europe Summer Time (UTC/GMT +2).

South Korea:

On August 16, 2005, Time Genie received a reply from the Korea Polar Research Institute (KOPRI) radio operator for King Sejong Station stating that the station observes Chilean Standard time (UTC/GMT -4). The station does not observe summer time.

Sweden:

Time Genie received confirmation from The Swedish Polar Research Secretariat on August 17, 2005 regarding the times for both Wasa Research Station and Svea Research Station. Time Genie was informed that both stations use Swedish Standard Time. This is the same time as Central Europe Standard Time which is UTC/GMT +1.

Russia:

On December 27, 2005, Time Genie received a reply from a Radio Amateur (DJ7BA) confirming that both Maitri Station (India) and Novolazarevskaya Station (Russia), which are located only 4.5 km from each other, both use UTC/GMT throughout the year.

UK Research Stations:

On January 18, 2005, an official from the British Antarctic Survey confirmed times for UK research stations in Antarctica. Most UK research stations do not observe daylight, but there is one exception to this rule and that is Halley Scientific Research Base.

Halley Scientific Research Base does not observe a traditional daylight saving time. Instead, this research base changes from UTC/GMT 0 to UTC/GMT -3 in late November or early December of each year. The time changes to UTC/GMT -3 around the time that the first plane arrives via Rothera Scientific Research Base which is located on Adelaide Island in the Bellingshausen Sea. This allows Halley to be in harmony with time at Rothera.

When the last plane leaves Halley Scientific Research Base, the time goes back to UTC/GMT 0. This happens normally around April, if not sooner. It is difficult to say exactly when the time changes at Halley as it all depends on weather.

Since the time at Halley does not change on a set date and since the time change will vary for operational reasons from year to year, at Time Genie we have decided to have Halley change to UTC/GMT -3 on December 1 of each year and to change back to UTC/GMT on April 1 of each year.

Airstrips such as Port Lockroy, Fossil Bay, and Sky Blu operate on the same time as Rothera.

Signy Island Scientific Research Base, located in the South Orkney Islands, is UTC/GMT -3 from approximately November 1 of each year until approximately April 15 of each year. Around April 15 of each year the base actually shuts down for the Antarctic winter. The exact date that Signy Island opens and closes all depends on when ships are able to arrive and when the last ship is able to depart before winter happens.

Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration — Time Genie's Encyclopedia

More information about the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration can be found at Wikipedia.

Time Genie offers the following pictures to salute those famous and those unknown who explored Antarctica during the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.

Roald Amundsen at the South Pole with his crew. Norwegian flag flying proud.
Roald Amundsen at the South Pole with his crew in 1911. Norwegian flag flying proud. Learn more about Roald Amundsen.
On January 16, 1909, Mackay, David and Mawson reach the magnetic south pole.
On January 16, 1909, Mackay, David and Mawson reach the magnetic south pole.
This picture of Scott was taken in the winter of 1911.
This picture of Scott was taken in the winter of 1911.
From left to right: Wild, Shackleton, Marshall and Adams.
From left to right: Wild, Shackleton, Marshall and Adams. All were members of the Nimrod Expedition.

Of the explorers, Time Genie personally likes Ernest Shackleton whose advertisement to obtain a crew for his expedition read:

Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.

The journey of Ernest Shackleton is legendary and Time Genie encourages all to watch a documentary or film about Ernest Shackleton.

For a more modern movie about Antarctica, based on a true story, Time Genie suggests watching Eight Below.

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