How long has Antarctica been frozen?

Thursday 29th July 2010
Submitted by nikkiwithers
Anon

Antarctica first had glaciers at the end of the Devonian period, around 350 million years ago. But it was still joined to the Gondwana supercontinent at that time and in any case the climate wasn’t cold enough for it to freeze completely. There are fossils of plants from this era. The polar ice caps melted for a while after that and it wasn’t until Africa and Antarctica separated around 160 million years ago that it began to cool again. By 23 million years ago, Antarctica was mostly icy forest and for the last 15 million years, it has been a frozen desert under a thick ice sheet. 




GOT A QUESTION?

Scratching your head over a burning scientific conundrum? submit your question and we'll get our esteemed panel of experts to answer it for you.

 

Do whales sleep?
previous qanda Article
What is the largest animal ever eaten by a Venus flytrap?
next qanda Article
Q&A Tabs

Phlegm is the mucous secretion of the respiratory passages. The cilia cells that line these passages are continually driving the phlegm upward to the throat, where it triggers the swallow reflex...

While a coin toss is regarded as random, it spins in a predictable way. In 2008, a team from the Technical University of Łódź, Poland, analysed the mechanics of a coin tumbling in the air. The...

Astronomer Fred Hoyle was the first to point out that if you could drive a car upwards at 95km/h (60mph), it would only take about an hour to get into space. To get to the Moon would take a little...

Probably a bit like giraffes. We can’t be sure because reproductive organs don’t fossilise, and no fossils of dinosaurs caught in the act have ever been found. We don’t even know...

Lobsters and other shellfish have harmful bacteria naturally present in their flesh. Once the lobster is dead, these bacteria can rapidly multiply and release toxins that may not be destroyed by...

All female mammals have a clitoris, the sole purpose of which is to react to sexual stimulation, and presumably this stimulation has evolved to be pleasurable for most species. But establishing...

To create a sound, we have to set matter - whether it's a gas like air, a liquid or even a solid material - in regular motion, creating a wave of specific frequencies, which we hear as a sound of...

Mirrors don’t reverse left and right either – that’s just our interpretation of what happens. Your reflection in the mirror is actually reversed front to back – if you have...

Discovered by an American student named Gary Flandro in the mid-1960s, the slingshot manoeuvre usually involves spacecraft briefly 'coat-tailing' a planet orbiting the Sun, extracting some of the...

The ice disappears because the wind blows away water molecules that have evaporated or 'sublimed' from the ice, so the ice slowly shrinks in size. The molecules that escape are those with the...