Antarctica wasn’t always so cold

Antarctica
Kate will visit Antarctica to study glacial deposits on the bottom of the sea.
Photo courtesy National Park Service

Seventeen million years ago, it had a mild climate and supported a wide range of plant and animal life. But over time, temperatures dropped and Antarctica became the frozen land we know today. When and how this happened remains a mystery.

ANDRILL, the Antarctic Geologic Drilling project, plans to bore a hole through the sea ice and three-quarters of a mile into the ocean floor beneath. They hope to extract samples from Antarctica’s earlier, warmer period. This material may tell us how the continent’s climate has changed over time, and what the future might hold.