Winter has arrived in the northern hemisphere, as many areas experienced their first snowfall of the season. Heavy snow hit the Chinese capital, leading to flight cancellations and delays at Beijing Capital International Airport.

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A train travels through snow-covered on the outskirts of BeijingChina Daily/Reuters
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Snow is seen on a section of the Great Wall of China near BeijingKevin Frayer/Getty Images
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Chinese tourists carefully climb a slippery section of the Great Wall of China after a snowfallKevin Frayer/Getty Images
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Beijing Capital International Airport is covered with snowChinaFotoPress via Getty Images
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A giant panda sits on a tree during the first snowfall in Jinan, Shandong province, ChinaReuters
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Kazakh herdsmen drive their sheep and goats among snow-covered fields at Guozigou valley in Yili, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, ChinaChina Daily/Reuters
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A sculpture by Chinese artist Yue Minjun is covered in snow in BeijingJason Lee/Reuters
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Snow is seen on the uniform of a Chinese paramilitary police officer as he stands guard outside Tiananmen Gate in BeijingKevin Frayer/Getty Images

A heavy snowstorm hit the US city of Chicago, with snowpack as thick as half a metre, disrupting traffic for commuters on Monday morning (23 November). The two days' snowfall was the heaviest recorded in the city in November for 120 years. Early snowstorms also hit various Midwestern states, such as Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa.

Polar bear plays in fresh snowfall in Wisconsin ZooIBTimes UK

Britain saw its first snow of the season. In Scotland temperatures fell to minus five degrees Celsius. Snow fell in parts of England, with a few flurries recorded as far south as London. Bookies have slashed the odds on the coldest ever November day in the UK from 12/1 into 8/1.

Europe is also bracing itself for a cold winter as snow was recorded in parts of France, Germany, Spain and Poland.

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A car passes a snow-covered sign warning of slippery roads in Perthshire, ScotlandRussell Cheyne/Reuters
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A car drives in the snow on the A93 in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.Russell Cheyne/Reuters
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Cars drive through the first snowfall of the season in Krakow, southern PolandMichal Lepecki/Agencja Gazeta/Reuters
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Genki Haraguchi and Jin-Su Kim vie for the ball in heavy snow during the German first division Bundesliga football match between Hertha BSC Berlin and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim at the Olympic Stadium in BerlinOdd Andersen/AFP
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Sheep search for food under the snow in a meadow near Apfeltrang, southern GermanyKarl-Josef Hindenbrand/DPA/AFP
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People walk along a street as the snow falls in Hamburg, northern GermanyMarcus Brandt/DPA/AFP
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People walk their dogs down a snow-covered road near the village of Le Bessat village in the Pilat mountain area between Lyon and Saint-Etienne, south-eastern FrancePhilippe Desmazes/AFP
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Cows eat pine needles in a snow-covered forest in the Basque region, northern SpainVincent West/Reuters

Meanwhile, of course, the southern hemisphere is entering summer. Australia is already in the grips of its first heatwave, with temperatures exceeding 40C – unusually hot for so early in the season.

At Sydney's Taronga Zoo, keepers gave the animals icy treats in an effort to cool them down in the hot weather.

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People cool off at Sydney's famous Bondi Beach ocean pool as temperatures soared over 40CPeter Parks/AFP
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Surfers ride the waves at Freshwater Beach in Sydney. The east coast of Australia has has been experiencing a heatwave, with temperatures exceeding 35C for most of the weekCameron Spencer/Getty Images
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A chimpanzee enjoys an icy treat provided by Taronga Zoo primate keepers to keep the animals coolCameron Spencer/Getty Images
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Fumo, a baby chimpanzee at Taronga Zoo, enjoys an icy treatCameron Spencer/Getty Images

This year's El Nino is expected to become the most extreme ever recorded. According to the the World Meteorological Organisation, peak three-month average surface ocean temperatures in the east-central tropical Pacific Ocean will exceed 2C above normal.

More frequent heatwaves and the rising of sea levels are expected to bring more flooding and tsunamis, while severe storms equivalent to category four and five hurricanes will also occur more often. El Nino is expected to bring a strong winter to the continental United States, with bitter cold weather and heavy rain in the southern part of the country. The Pacific Northwest region on the other hand, will be hit by a warmer and drier winter, which will most likely aggravate the already problematic drought in California.