National Geographic News
Published June 20, 2012
An unexpectedly warm period about 15 million years ago temporarily thawed Antarctica, turning the continent green around its edges, a new study says.
Antarctica developed its ice sheets about 34 million years ago. But during the more recent warm period, the interior landscape would've resembled tundrafound in parts of modern-day Chile and New Zealand, and the coasts would've been lined with beeches and a type of conifer.
The surprising evidence comes from "abundant" remains of leaf waxes in sediment cores taken from deep beneath Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf, said study leader Sarah Feakins, a biogeochemist at the University of Southern California.