Is the Earth heading for an icy future?

Ice and Icing

When I mentioned to my Gran that we were in an ice age she was immediately worried. “Should I get my boiler serviced?” she wanted to know. With varying reports in the media of global warming having ‘stopped’ and extreme weather events dominating headlines this worry is hardly surprising. But is there a genuine need for concern?

We are currently living through the Pleistocene Ice Age, although thankfully we’re experiencing an interglacial period – a respite from the type of cold periods that spring to mind when talking about an ‘ice age’. But how long will this warm period last?

The historical record suggests that within the Pleistocene (roughly the last 2.5 million years) the onset of warm eras such as the one we’re currently in have been controlled by the Earth’s orbit. On scales of 100,000’s of years the shape of the Earth’s orbit changes, becoming more or less…

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