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The English version of our glossary is currently under construction and will be regularly updated.

Ice age

An ice age or glacial period is characterised by a long-term temperature reduction in the Earth’s climate, which leads continental ice sheets and alpine glaciers to grow (glaciation).

In the course of the millennia, the Earth has experienced major climate variations. The most prominent were the ice ages. Various cycles can be identified, with periods of ca. 100,000, 41,000 and 22,000 years. They are caused by gradual changes in the Earth’s orbit, which have precisely the same periods. Positive feedbacks in the Earth system itself, like in-phase changes in greenhouse-gas concentrations, can have an amplifying effect.