backtop


Print 73 comment(s) - last by spepper.. on Apr 12 at 8:10 AM

Can we expect an ice age to start every 36,500,000 days or so?

While the battle for what's right and wrong roars on concerning climate change as a whole, it seems that many small observations are left to collect dust while politicians and activists concentrate on their own immediate problems. It can seem overwhelming at times when science-fact is pushed into a corner because it doesn't help support a growingly concerned (or unconcerned) community. Nevertheless, these data and observations are important in the long term to help climate scientists and geologists understand how the Earth changes over millennia and how those changes are affecting the current climate.

Some great finds have made their way into 
DailyTech's news reel already this year. In January, the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research published findings that suggested tiny geological formations could be responsible for regulating the entire North American region. In February, researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute released data that suggested Greenland's rapid glacial retreat is being at least marginally affected by warm subtropical waters making their way along currents all the way into the country's fjords. These findings suggest that at least one part of the northern hemisphere's climate is controlled more than partially by ocean systems.

This week, University of California, Santa Barbara geologist Lorraine Lisiecki has presented information linking long-term climate cycles more closely with Earth's ~100,000 year orbital cycle. And not only does the information suggest quite clearly that ice ages are an effect of these cycles, it shows that how adversely the orbit changes inversely affects the climate change. The idea that the planet's orbit is a large or ultimate factor in the rise and fall of ice ages is not new, however, the study shows a very strong connection between hard data and theory.

"The clear correlation between the timing of the change in orbit and the change in the Earth's climate is strong evidence of a link between the two. It is unlikely that these events would not be related to one another," explains Lisiecki.

The data correlates the climate change to two different aspects of the Earth's orbit around the sun as well as its own rotational oscillations. The first is the Earth's orbital eccentricity, or how elliptical/circular the orbit is. The second is its inclination, or the angle of its path compared to the solar orbital mean. The planet's rotational precession, or how the planet wobbles around its own rotational axis, is the third contributing factor in Lisiecki's study.

While this evidence strongly suggest patterns of climate due to local astronomy, Lisiecky does not solely attribute the cyclical changes to her findings. She stresses that these kinds of total climate changes are most likely a complicated interplay between the astronomical system and the Earth's own weather and more immediate systems. Further, the inverse relationship between the strength of climate change and the change in orbital pattern suggest that the overall system simply isn't that easy to decipher.

Lisiecki used climate data for the last 1.2 million years collected from 57 separate ocean sediment cores in her study. With this data she discovered the correlation between orbit and climate. Her full findings have been published in this week's edition of 
Nature Geoscience.



Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: Yet another reason for global warming
By MrBlastman on 4/7/2010 9:03:32 AM , Rating: 2
Finally, some factual evidence that is logical.

Oh, and I'll chip in for some plastic, here's a few more bottles to burn. ;)


RE: Yet another reason for global warming
By porkpie on 4/7/2010 9:18:44 AM , Rating: 4
Of course, the article is exaggerated, and downright wrong in places. This researcher didn't "discover" a link between climate and orbit, she merely made one more study among many linking the two.

In fact, the surprising thing about the study isn't even mentioned in the article. It's that she linked the most minor degree of eccentricity with the largest changes in climate. Meaning that the changes we would expect to be smallest actually had the largest effect. Still more proof that the earth's climate has feedback mechanisms we still don't have even the glimmerings of a clue about.


By MrBlastman on 4/7/2010 9:25:43 AM , Rating: 2
Well sure, it was all correlated. We have no factual proof, as really, could we? The mechanisms that our world operate by are so complex and numerous that within the soup stir a few things in the swirl that occasionally jump out and catch our eyes as making sense. I've for the longest time considered the Earth's orbit alone solely a large contributor to the warming/cooling cycles of our planet.

After all, where do we get our heat from? Well, okay, the majority of it--our Sun. Since without our sun, our Earth, at least, on its own, would have no other way of generating excess energy to pull itself _out_ of an ice age; yet, over the millions of years it has been around, it has always managed to.

I'll mark this discovery down on the list of--very probable contributor.


RE: Yet another reason for global warming
By NesuD on 4/7/2010 9:37:21 AM , Rating: 4
quote:
Still more proof that the earth's climate has feedback mechanisms we still don't have even the glimmerings of a clue about.


Exactly why models are useless. We don't know anywhere near enough about all the factors that control the Earths climactic cycles to even begin to devise reliable models for predicting future climactic changes. Basing conclusions on unreliable and likely inaccurate models is ridiculous and foolhardy.


By clovell on 4/7/2010 5:40:04 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, but that doesn't mean models are useless. We just have to be honest about their shortcomings and continue to work on improving them.

If it was easy, everybody would do it.


"My sex life is pretty good" -- Steve Jobs' random musings during the 2010 D8 conference














botimage
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki