We all know that the earth is about 4.5 billion years old, but when was the first snowfall?
A new study by the University of Oregon has concluded that for almost the first half of the time since the earth’s formation geological and meteorological conditions were such that it did not snow.
The study, the findings of which have been published in the journal Nature, concludes that it wasn’t until 2.4 billion years ago that conditions were right for it to snow for the first time.
The researchers based their findings on the fact that 2.4 billion years ago large land masses rose relatively swiftly from the sea changing the way the climate worked.
“What we speculate is that once large continents emerged, light would have been reflected back into space and that would have initiated runaway glaciation. Earth would have seen its first snowfall,” said geologist Professor Ilya Bindeman from the Department of Earth Sciences at University of Oregon and the study’s lead author.
Bindeman’s teams looked at shale samples from every continent showing rainwater arosion dating back as far as 3.5 billion years ago, but at the 2.4-billion-year-old mark many of the hundreds of samples showed a major change, coinciding with the timing of the emergence of one of earth’s first ‘supercontinents’ known as Kenorland and the planet’s first high mountain ranges.