High-elevation rock surfaces in Antarctica have some of the oldest cosmogenic-nuclide exposure ages on Earth, dating back to the Miocene. A compilation of all available 3He, 10Be, and 21Ne exposure-age data from the Antarctic continent shows that exposure histories recorded by these surfaces extend back to, but not before, the mid-Miocene cooling at 14–15 Ma. At high elevation, this cooling entailed a transition between a climate in which liquid water and biota were present and could contribute to surface weathering and erosion, and a polar desert climate in which virtually all weathering and erosion processes had been shut off. This climate appears to have continued uninterrupted between the mid-Miocene and the present.

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