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Alpine Antarctica, before the ice

Survey may have unveiled the birthplace of the world’s largest ice sheet

By
12:52pm, June 3, 2009

Deep below the icy surface of East Antarctica lies a mountain range with alpine topography carved by ancient glaciers, a landscape frozen in time for millions of years and rife with clues about the origin and evolution of the world’s largest ice sheet.

Many studies hint that Antarctica’s ice sheet began to form about 34 million years ago (SN: 10/11/08, p. 12), but where that ice sheet originated and how it evolved have long been mysteries. Now, scientists who used ice-penetrating radar to survey a 30-by-30–kilometer area in East Antarctica report in the June 4 Nature

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