Human emissions of carbon dioxide will defer the next Ice Age, say scientists. The last Ice Age ended about 11,500 years ago, and when the next one should begin has not been entirely clear.
Researchers used data on the Earth's orbit and other things to find the historical warm interglacial period that looks most like the current one. In the journal Nature Geoscience, they write that the next Ice Age would begin within 1,500 years - but emissions have been so high that it will not.
The broad conclusions of the team were endorsed by Lawrence Mysak, emeritus professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, who has also investigated the transitions between Ice Ages and warm interglacials.
"The key thing is they're looking about 800,000 years back, and that's twice the 400,000-year cycle, so they're looking at the right period in terms of what could happen in the absence of anthropogenic forcing," he told BBC News.