Macquarie Island FAQ

Macquarie Island Station.

Where is it?
Macquarie Island 3
Macquarie Island is in the Southern Ocean, roughly halfway between Tasmania and Antarctica, at 158°55’E, 54° 30’S. It is approximately 1500 km southeast of Hobart and 620 km southwest from its nearest neighbour, Auckland Island.

How big is it?

Macca is 34 km long and up to 5.5 kilometres wide, with a total area of 128 km2. (Similar in size to Tasmania’s Maria Island).

How many people live there?

There are no permanent residents but there is a research station managed by the Australian Antarctic Division with around 16 expeditioners over winter and typically 30-40 people over summer.

Macquarie Island Station.
Macquarie Island Station.
On board the Aurora Australis heading into a decent swell, with silly hat.
On board the Aurora Australis heading into a decent swell, with silly hat.

How do you get there?

There is no air transport so the only option is by boat. The AAD ship Aurora Australis generally visits twice a year. It is a 3 day voyage from Hobart. Apart from the AAD, the only visitors are tourists on Antarctic cruises and the occasional intrepid yacht.

 

It must be really cold, isn’t it?

It is cold, but not as cold as many places. Temperatures at sea level rarely drop below freezing, while frosts are common at higher elevations.

Macquarie Island temperature averages (AAD Station 6 m a.s.l.). Source: all met sat.
Macquarie Island monthly temperature averages (AAD Station 6 m a.s.l.), red = max, blue = min. Source: all met sat.

Much colder temperatures occur in places much further north that are continental or at higher elevations, such as Canberra. This is because the climate of Macca is ‘hyper-oceanic’ – it is surrounded by a huge mass of ocean with a very stable temperature, which influences air temperatures. Consequently, the island has one of the least variable climates on Earth, with only a few degrees range of temperature daily and seasonally. This also means it is never warm!

Then there is the wind chill (the sensation of cold on bare skin which increases with wind speed), which makes it feel colder because it is always windy.

… And wet?

Like temperature, rainfall varies little throughout the year on account of the oceanic influence and constant westerly winds. The weather is notoriously drizzly, with rainfall most days, but rarely heavy. High humidity, low evaporation, frequent mist and poorly-drained soils mean that the island is almost permanently moist.

Mist and mud on the plateau.
Mist and mud on the plateau.
Sometimes it is sunny!
Sometimes it is sunny! (but note beenie and gloves)

What’s the weather like on Macca right now?

Take a look at the webcam.

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One thought on “Macquarie Island FAQ

  1. Pingback: Who? What? Where? Why? How? | far south ecology

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