Four firn cores were retrieved in 2007 at two ridges in the area of the Ekström Ice Shelf, Dronning Maud Land, coastal East Antarctica, in order to investigate the recent regional climate variability and the potential for future extraction of an intermediate-depth core. Stable water-isotope analysis, tritium content and electrical conductivity were used to date the cores. For the period 1981–2006 a strong and significant correlation between the stable-isotope composition of firn cores in the hinterland and mean monthly air temperatures at Neumayer station was (r = 0.54−0.71). No atmospheric warming or cooling trend is inferred from our stable-isotope data for the period 1962–2006. The stable-isotope record of the ice/firn cores could expand well beyond the meteorological record of the region. No significant temporal variation of accumulation rates was detected. However, decreasing accumulation rates were found from coast to hinterland, as well as from east (Halvfarryggen) to west (Søråsen). The deuterium excess (d) exhibits similar differences (higher d at Søråsen, lower d at Halvfarryggen), with a weak negative temporal trend on Halvfarryggen (0.04‰ a−1), probably implying increasing oceanic input. We conclude that Halvfarryggen acts as a natural barrier for moisture-carrying air masses circulating in the region from east to west.