The last glacial period was the most recent glacial period within the Quaternary glaciation of the Current Ice Age, occurring in the Pleistocene epoch, which began about 110,000 years ago and ended about 15,000 years ago. The glaciations that occurred during this glacial period covered many areas of the Northern Hemisphere and have different names, depending on their geographic distributions: Wisconsin (in North America), Devensian (in Great Britain), Midlandian (in Ireland), Würm (in the Alps), Weichsel (in northern central Europe), Dali (in East China), Beiye (in North China), Taibai (in Shaanxi) Luojishan (in Southwest Sichuan), Zagunao (in Northwest Sichuan), Tianchi (in Tianshan Mountains) Qomolangma (in Himalaya), and Llanquihue (in Chile). The glacial advance reached its maximum extent about 18,000 BP. In Europe, the ice sheet reached Northern Germany. In the last 650,000 years, there were, on average, seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat.
Since orbital variations are predictable, computer models that relate orbital variations to climate can predict future climate possibilities. Two caveats are necessary: that anthropogenic effects (human-assisted global warming) are likely to exert a larger influence over the short term; and that the mechanism by which orbital forcing influences climate is not well understood. Work by Berger and Loutre suggests that the current warm climate may last another 50,000 years.