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Snow and ice, gales from Siberia and temperatures of -17C

At the start of the Pleistocene Period, 1.5 millions years ago, the climate of the Northern Hemisphere began to deteriorate and the Polar ice caps gradually spread southward over Europe, The Great Ice Age had begun.

Why the earth's climate should change so dramatically has been the subject of intense research and the generally accepted theories attribute these changes to variations in the earth's orbital geometry.

Great Britain
Forecasters are predicting that temperatures will drop well below freezing this week, after the spell of mild weather over the holiday period comes to an abrupt end. Snow and icy Siberian winds are forecast to hit Britain today and Thursday, causing chaos and congestion on the roads as millions return to work. The Met Office forecasts an average temperature of just 2.5C (36.5F), although it says that there will be a severe wind chill factor. The average temperature for last January was 6C. Any part of Britain could potentially wake up to snow on Thursday morning. No more than 1cm of snow is expected, although forecasters say that this could increase to 10cm (4 inches) in hilly and mountainous areas. Experts disagree on the course of the weather after this cold snap. The Met Office says that January and February look set to be unseasonably mild. A spokesman said: “The evidence we have at the moment suggests that January and February will be milder than we would normally expect at this time of year.” However, Piers Corbyn, from the long-range forecaster Weatheraction, predicted that temperatures would fall as low as minus 17C (1.5F) in mid-January, with heavy snow in the South East. “This could make this January the coldest since 1987.” A senior meteorologist at MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: “Apocalyptic predictions verging on prophecies of a new Ice Age need to be put into perspective. There is no doubt at all that it will feel bitterly cold, especially on Thursday and particularly in the eastern half of Britain. Strong, raw winds from the east will bring a significant wind chill and showers of sleet and snow. In the middle of winter such conditions are hardly unknown though, and in fact could be far, far worse. Indeed, some people in the western half of the country might be left wondering what all the fuss is about.”
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