West Antarctica Warmed Quickly: 20,000 Years Ago

West Antarctica Warmed Quickly: 20,000 Years Ago

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The modern meltdown of the Antarctic Ice Sheet mirrors the frozen continent’s big thaw after the last ice age ended 20,000 years ago, a new study finds.

New ice core records from West Antarctica show the huge ice sheet started heating up about 20,000 to 22,000 years ago, 2,000 to 4,000 years earlier than previously thought. But in East Antarctica, which was higher in elevation, colder and drier than the West, the continent stayed in its deep-freeze cycle until 18,000 years ago. The results were published today (Aug. 14) in the journal Nature.

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