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The terms greenhouse (called hothouse in some sources) and icehouse Earth refer to the prevailing global climate on a timescale of millions of years.

During a greenhouse Earth period, the planet's atmosphere contains sufficient greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane for ice to be entirely absent from the planet's surface.

During icehouse periods, glaciers are present in fluctuating amounts; variations in the Earth's orbit may result in many ice ages, glacials, and interglacials.

The current icehouse period had its beginnings ~50 million years ago; a blooming of freshwater plants in the Arctic Ocean known as the Azolla event may have contributed to its initiation.


The terms greenhouse (called hothouse in some sources) and icehouse Earth refer to the prevailing global climate on a timescale of millions of years.

During a greenhouse Earth period, the planet's atmosphere contains sufficient greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane for ice to be entirely absent from the planet's surface.[verification needed]

During icehouse periods, glaciers are present in fluctuating amounts; variations in the Earth's orbit may result in many ice ages, glacials, and interglacials.

The current icehouse period had its beginnings ~50 million years ago; a blooming of freshwater plants in the Arctic Ocean known as the Azolla event may have contributed to its initiation.

See also

Atmospheric circulation

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