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Time Zones in Antarctica

Technically, Antarctica, and the North Pole, fall under all time zones currently followed by the rest of the world. This is because the longitude lines that are used to define time zones all meet at the two poles.

Illustration image
The Poles: Where time zones meet!
Technically, both the South Pole and the North Pole are at all time zones at the same time.
©iStockphoto.com/David Ciemny

Time zones used in Antarcatica

No Official Time Zone

Any of the 24 standard time zones (UTC+/-n) or the two non standard time zones (UTC+/- n:30, UTC +/- n:45) would be an appropriate way of keeping time in Antarctica.

The lack of an official time zone in Antarctica is not a problem, since nobody lives there permanently. However, a number of countries do operate research stations in the continent and to make things convenient for the researchers and visitors, each research base determines the time zone it wants to operate in.

Take Your Pick

For practical purposes, some research stations follow the time zone of their home country. Others, like the McMurdo station and Palmer station, both run by the US, synchronize their time to the closest point in the inhabited world.

McMurdo for instance, follows the same time as Christchurch, New Zealand, since most visitors and researchers to the station use Christchurch as their point of embarkation to Antarctica. Palmer Station on the other hand, follows Chilean time.

Other research stations tend to follow UTC.

Only One Sunrise a Year

Since most of its territory lies below the Antarctic Circle, Antarctica experiences 24 hour of sunlight during the summer and 24 hours of darkness in the winter.

Sunrise & Sunset times

DST Pointless

This makes having Daylight Saving Time pointless for the continent. However, stations that synchronize their time zones with ones that follows DST, do set their clocks when the time zone they follow starts or ends DST. For example, McMurdo station follows New Zealand Standard Time, which is UTC+12, during the winter and then spring forward one hour in the summer to UTC+13 to follow DST changes in Christchurch.

Time in North Pole

While there is land surrounding the South Pole, the North Pole is mostly surrounded by drifting sea ice. This makes it harder for anyone to keep time in the North Pole. For the most part, researchers and visitors to the North Pole tend to follow the time zone of their respective countries and regions.

Grid North vs True North

That any point on the south pole directs to the geographical north making giving directions very difficult. To overcome this problem, directions in the North Pole is given in reference to the Grid North which points towards the Prime Meridian.

Topics: Time Zone, Timekeeping

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Time Zone Library

  1. Time Zone History
  2. Half Hour Time Zones
  3. International Date Line
  4. Time Zones in Antarctica

What is a Time Zone?


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