Ice Ages

Listen in pop-out player

Jane Francis, Richard Corfield and Carrie Lear join Melvyn Bragg to discuss ice ages, periods when a reduction in the surface temperature of the Earth has resulted in ice sheets at the Poles. Although the term 'ice age' is commonly associated with prehistoric eras when much of northern Europe was covered in ice, we are in fact currently in an ice age which began up to 40 million years ago. Geological evidence indicates that there have been several in the Earth's history, although their precise cause is not known. Ice ages have had profound effects on the geography and biology of our planet.


Jane Francis
Professor of Paleoclimatology at the University of Leeds

Richard Corfield
Visiting Research Fellow in the Department of Earth Sciences at Oxford University

Carrie Lear
Senior Lecturer in Palaeoceanography at Cardiff University.

Producer: Thomas Morris.

Release date:

Available now

43 minutes

Last on

Thu 14 Feb 2013 21:30

Related topics


Dr Richard Corfield


Professor Jane Francis at the University of Leeds


Dr Caroline Lear at Cardiff University


Climate: Long range Investigation, Mapping, and Prediction - Wikipedia


Ice age - Wikipedia


Descent into the Icehouse





Richard Corfield, Architects of Eternity (Headline Book Publishing, 2001)


J. Imbrie and K. P. Imbrie, Ice Ages: Solving the Mystery (Harvard University Press, 1986)


Doug Macdougall, Frozen Earth: The Once and Future Story of Ice Ages (University of California Press, 2006)


William F. Ruddiman, Earth’s Climate: Past and Future (W. H. Freeman, 2007)


Gabrielle Walker, Snowball Earth (Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, 2004)


Featured in...

Topics: an extra way to explore our archive

Topics: an extra way to explore our archive

How you helped us find a fresh way to discover our programmes.

Animal Farm quiz

Animal Farm

How well do you know Orwell's allegory on Stalin’s Russia?

In Our Time podcasts

In Our Time podcasts

Every episode of In Our Time is available to download.

Quiz: Where's Melvyn?


How many of these northern landmarks do you know?

A History of Ideas

The Libet Experiment

Some of life's biggest questions explored in animations.