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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.

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Common sense
By todda7 on 4/7/2010 10:45:36 AM , Rating: -1
I cannot understand why we are still having this debate.
1) Earth formed. After a while it cooled down and allowed abiogenesis to take place. Lots of shit in our atmosphere.
2) The organisms evolve and consume the shit in our atmosphere. It's left on the ground.
3) A new atmosphere with lower concentration of shit allows other lifeforms to evolve. After a while, humans evolve. Even though the climate has had its ups and downs because of volcano eruptions, differences in the orbit and new organisms, it stayed quite stable.
4) The industrial era. Man takes the shit on/in the ground and throws in into the atmosphere again. Man ruins the cycle of life by killing of species, taking their ground and throwing shit into their food. Man kills a lot of the organisms which takes the shit from the atmosphere and store it on the ground.
5) Back to square one. The organisms on the planet cannot live in the new conditions. Man dies. Life evolves once again, but because of limited access to easy accessible resources, never to become intelligent.

RE: Common sense
By porkpie on 4/7/2010 10:52:38 AM , Rating: 5
"I cannot understand why we are still having this debate."

Probably because the lack of understanding displayed in your post impels others to try valiantly, yet vainly to correct your specious reasoning.

Long before mankind began driving SUVs, the climate was not "quite stable". At times we've had temperatures warm enough to drive the tropics nearly as high as the Arctic circle. At other times, we've had what was known as "snowball earth", when glaciers covered most of the planet.

Now we have a temperature change of a single degree, a change that actually stopped 15 years ago, according to the latest satellite data -- and yet, to the illogical and pseudo-scientific mind, the sky is suddenly falling! We're all going die! It's enough to make one question whether or not we're truly an intelligent species.

RE: Common sense
By todda7 on 4/7/10, Rating: -1
RE: Common sense
By porkpie on 4/7/2010 11:14:15 AM , Rating: 3
"In perspective, it has been stable"

No it hasn't. It's been ice cold and boiling hot. It's had regular cycles of ice ages. The ocean has been both hundreds of feet higher and lower. Countless deserts and swamps have formed, reformed, migrated, and vanished.

It's had CO2 levels 20 times higher than we have today, and levels even lower. It was once without any free oxygen of any fact the generation of oxygen by living creatures killed off most of the then-life on the planet, forcing what survived to adapt.

Our climate has never been "stable", in any way, shape, or form.

" The organisms of the earth shaped the climate to what it is today,"

You're forgetting mankind is one of those organisms. And we're not "using up all the resources". Resources such as metals, water, timber, etc can never be exhausted. Even petroleum can be synthesized directly from nothing but water and CO2. And for anyone naive enough to think "half the planet" is covered in concrete, I suggest you take a cross-country plane trip and actually look out the window once in a while. Even if you add in asphalt, less than 0.01% of the earth's surface is so covered.

The sky isn't falling, Chicken Little.

RE: Common sense
By todda7 on 4/7/10, Rating: -1
RE: Common sense
By JediJeb on 4/7/2010 12:05:42 PM , Rating: 4
Of course half of the face of the face of the planet is not covered in concrete or asphalt, by all means. But I have yet to see a place not affected by the rise of the modern civilization.

Why is it then when you look at a satellite map of the earth you see mostly green where the land masses are instead of black asphalt or white concrete? I think you are confusing 50% with something more like 0.001% as being covered with concrete and asphalt. Come live where I do and you will see the ratio of concrete and asphalt to grass is about 10,000 grass to 1 concrete/asphalt, and I live in a small town, not out in a complete nowhere.

It is people who look out their window and see a parking lot and assume that the world is covered in man made materials who are the same ones freaking out about a fraction of a degree warming that is probably more caused by natural forces than human forces and yet want humans to disappear from the planet so it will "survive". Unless another planet smashes into earth or the sun explodes, the planet will survive, humans may not but the planet will. Mankind should be focused more on how to adapt and flow with the changes in the planet than trying to make it stop changing because we don't want to lose our happy place in climate history we have become acclimated to.

RE: Common sense
By porkpie on 4/7/2010 12:12:04 PM , Rating: 2
"As you say, there was no/little oxygen. The dawn of life eventually changed that"

The point you miss is that, for those early organisms, oxygen was a deadly poison. They killed themselves with their own pollution.

" You say the CO2 levels were 20 times higher, which is true. This is however a) before the propagation of organisms with efficient photo-synthesis "

Lol, what? Please read about the Carboniferous Period please. It was the richest, most biologically diverse period in earth's history...and plant photosynthesis was no different than it is today.

CO2 drives plant growth, period. In fact, modern commercial greenhouses artificially boost CO2 levels to about 1,200 ppm (over 3X current levels) to help plants grow better.

Had mankind not come along and reversed the process, eventually all life on the planet would have killed itself off, by consuming all the free CO2.

"I have yet to see a place not affected by the rise of the modern civilization."

If you think that's a bad thing, I suggest you try living in the wilderness alone for a few years. Without any clothes, tools, or fancy high-tech camping gear.

Our ability to change the environment for our benefit is what we should be most proud of. Ignorant scientific illiterates think its something to be ashamed of.

RE: Common sense
By sigilscience on 4/7/2010 12:30:20 PM , Rating: 2
omg, how fast can you churn out these posts?

RE: Common sense
By porkpie on 4/7/2010 12:33:44 PM , Rating: 2
Typing 100+ wpm helps ... I'm actually posting to 2 other sites at the moment as well :)

RE: Common sense
By Anoxanmore on 4/7/2010 3:21:26 PM , Rating: 2
Porkpie is one of the slowest typists I know ; - ) <3

RE: Common sense
By todda7 on 4/7/10, Rating: -1
RE: Common sense
By porkpie on 4/7/2010 1:12:59 PM , Rating: 4
"Let the plants breed 100% oxygen and in 100 billion years, lets see who have the plants which grows best."

Err, we're talking about plant life today, Sparky. The plants we depend on for all life on earth require CO2...and they would thrive if CO2 levels were much higher than are today.

"it seems like oxygen is way more valuable resource than CO2 for the organisms of the planet earth, maybe all life in general."

"Way more"? If you understood biology, you would realize the opposite. CO2 is far more essential than oxygen, even ignoring life such as anaerobes. And even among organisms that require oxygen, free O2 is a dangerous poison, that causes severe organ damage.

"How long do you think we humans can live the way we do today?"

Forever. In fact, there's every reason to believe that, in 100 years, our standard of living (and our per-capita energy and rsource consumption) will be far higher than it is today.

RE: Common sense
By todda7 on 4/7/10, Rating: -1
RE: Common sense
By clovell on 4/7/2010 5:44:39 PM , Rating: 3
OP, Calvin Cycle fail.

RE: Common sense
By todda7 on 4/8/2010 9:36:04 AM , Rating: 1
Why would we need photo-synthesis if the atmosphere was 100% oxygen? Given that we got our food from somewhere else.

RE: Common sense
By porkpie on 4/8/2010 10:46:49 AM , Rating: 2
Now you're failing basic thermodynamics. If life doesn't get its energy from the sun, where would it come from? Other than nuclear power, there is no other ultimate source.

RE: Common sense
By clovell on 4/9/2010 5:27:32 PM , Rating: 2
Because I like Tomatoes on my pizza. Seriously, a 100% O2 atmosphere? You just killed all plant life on the planet. Let's see how long we all last.

RE: Common sense
By rtrski on 4/7/2010 11:52:21 AM , Rating: 3
We are using up all the resources and replacing half the face of the earth with concrete .

(emphasis added)

So, using the (admittedly simplistic) estimate that 30% of the Earth's surface is land and 70% is water, you're saying we've concreted all the land and about 28% of the oceanic surface?

You'd think I would notice that playing around with Google Earth.

And people wonder why they're not taken seriously when making baldfaced exaggerative statements like that. (sigh)

RE: Common sense
By porkpie on 4/7/2010 12:18:30 PM , Rating: 4
You know, I'm ashamed to say I do regret one thing about the looking death of the AGW movement. A few years ago, you could actually find someone semi-intelligent to debate global warming with.

Now, the only people who believe in it (or at least aren't ashamed to admit it publicly) are loons like this.

RE: Common sense
By Grabo on 4/8/2010 1:41:43 PM , Rating: 2
'Death of AGW movement' - movement? Dying?
'Aren't ashamed to admit it publicly' .

There is only one thing I really want to know - is porky another synonym for masher?

Where's the point in arguing with you? Though if you wish, continue our discussion above.

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