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What causes an ice age?

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Quick Answer

Although the exact cause of ice ages is not known, scientists speculate that they are caused by a combination of the distance of the Earth from the Sun, the position of the continents and solar output. The last ice age happened around 20,000 years ago.

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During an ice age, the whole planet is noticeably colder. Ice ages can last for million of years and help to shape continents. Today's climate is actually a warm period between periods of glaciation. The world's climate continues to change and land masses continue to move. This means that the Earth is in the middle of a major cooling period that started more than 3 million years ago.

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