34,000,000 years

This might be what the Earth looked like 34 million years ago just before Antarctica glaciated…

This image is overlooking the narrow and shallow Tasman Seaway separating Australia and Antarctica during a period of time called the Priabonian (38-34 million years ago), at the end of the Eocene. The Earth gradually cooled during the Eocene, likely due to declining atmospheric carbon dioxide, and climaxed with the expansion of a huge ice sheet over Antarctica at the transition between the Eocene and the Oligocene. This was the biggest climatic shift since the end of the Cretaceous and the extinction of the dinosaurs. Pretty crazy, eh?

EOT sat image 1

This is what I am currently researching for my PhD. I mean, I don’t normally sit on Photoshop, but in this case I think it was a pretty productive use of an afternoon. My first paper is coming out in less than two weeks, things like that are more what I usually spend my time working on. Be sure to give it a read if you are having trouble sleeping!

My thanks go to Getech, whose palaeogeographic reconstructions this is loosely based upon, and a number of satellite images from Wikipedia who offered up their clouds, land, mountains and plankton blooms to make this composite image.

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