THE Arctic temperatures which have blasted Scotland for several days could last until the beginning of April, according a leading expert.

Professor Tore Furevik, of the University of Bergen in Norway and a director of Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, spoke at a Nordic Horizons event in the Scottish Parliament last year.

Now he is warning the current weather system is similar to the one which hit the country in the winter of 2009/10 and which lasted for around three months.

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He said it was difficult to predict precisely how long it would last but estimated it could be between nine days and six weeks.

“It is hard to tell [how long it will last in Scotland] certainly I would say for the next week, but it may last until late March or even early April, but we don’t know yet.”

He said: “We are not seeing any change so far if you look at the forecast for the next week, but we cannot tell.”

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He explained that the current weather event is similar to one experienced over the winter of 2009/10 which lasted for several months.

“In Bergen for instance it snowed for 84 days in a row in 2009/10- I had never seen this before and it lasted a similar length of time in Scotland as well,” he said.

“It is difficult to tell, but we also know from past experiences that these cold spells are usually very long.”

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Furevik, who is professor in physical oceanography at the Geophysical Institute, and a former president of the Bergen Geophysical Society and the Norwegian Geophysical Society, has research interests in climate modelling, large-scale variability in the atmosphere and ocean and air-sea-ice interactions.

He explained that the current cold weather across Scotland and most of Europe was not caused by climate change, but was the result of a so-called “Stratospheric sudden warming” that started 50 km above the Earth’s atmosphere three weeks ago.

He said the recent Stratospheric sudden warming led to a very strong high pressure over north western Siberia and northern Europe, bringing cold air masses from Siberia in over Europe.

“It’s not due to climate change. There are no indications it is related to climate change as it is something we have seen before, though is quite rare.

“We have quite a long record of these events happening going back 40 years or so ago,” he said.

He went on to say that it was likely we would see a similar weather system hit the UK and the rest of Europe on average every other year.

“I would say we are likely to see about five of these systems every ten years or so.”

The heavy snow and cold weather began across most of Scotland on Wednesday evening and has brought traffic chaos, severe disruption for businesses and prompted the closure of schools, universities and offices.

Social media users started using the hashtags BeastFromTheEast and Snowmaggedon as they posted photographs of abandoned cars, deserted streets, people taking to skis to get around and children sledging.

The Met Office issued its first ever red weather warning for Scotland - meaning there is a risk to life - on Wednesday. It was downgraded yesterday to amber with areas affected being Strathclyde, Lothian, Grampian, Central, Tayside and Fife and South West Scotland.

Under the amber alert - due to be in force until 10am this morning - people in the affected areas are being urged to avoid all travel.

A further meeting of the Scottish Government’s Resilience Room (SGoRR), chaired by Deputy First Minister John Swinney and attended by the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, was held yesterday to help put in place measures to respond to the weather crisis.