How long has Antarctica been frozen? © Getty Images

How long has Antarctica been frozen?

Antartica hasn't always been covered in ice and snow, but over the millennia it has transformed from an icy forest to a frozen desert.

Asked by: Anonymous

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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.


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