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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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RE: Duh...
By gamerk2 on 4/7/2010 2:42:02 PM , Rating: -1
Disagree; CO2 is a known greenhouse gas, and the only question is whether or not it can change temps on a global scale. And based on past data [O2, which was created by Algae of all things...], and observation [Venus is a perfect example of a greenhouse effect], I'd say that scientsts are likley right. It is no coincidence in my mind that there is a clear historical coorelation between CO2 levels and temperatures [although which one is the cause of the other is up for debate].

That being said, anyone blaming GW as the only reason for current trends is being silly. It plays a part, but thats all. Likewise, many GW detractors tend to look only at local weather [The cold US winter, for instance], while ignoring the rest of the planet [which had a very warm winter]. Nevermind that GW would likely screw up the jet streams on a continental scale, which would produce all sorts of oddities (such as moving a warm front farther north, warming areas farther north then normal, but lowering temperatures in the other direction].

Likewise, some areas of the planet are closed off to outside changes. India, thanks to the himalleya (pardon my spelling on that) mountains, is mostly immune to outside weather effects, as the mountains prevent outside weather fronts from breaking into the continent.

Basically: Weather on a global scale is really complicated. So stop blaming one thing as the end all answer, one way or another.


RE: Duh...
By porkpie on 4/7/2010 3:45:19 PM , Rating: 3
"the only question is whether or not it can change temps"

No. The only question is whether or not it can change temperatures significantly.

"Venus is a perfect example of a greenhouse effect"

Venus is an imperfect example. It's far closer to the sun, it has over 100,000 times the CO2 as does the earth, and most importantly of all-- it has no water vapor which not only absorbs the same wavelengths of IR that CO2 does, but also acts as a negative feedback, by altering planetary albedo.

"many GW detractors tend to look only at local weather [The cold US winter, for instance], while ignoring the rest of the planet [which had a very warm winter"

The rest of the planet did not have "a very warm winter". England, Russia, China, Korea, Scandinavia, and many other nations had their coldest winters in decades or, in some cases, in all recorded history:

http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2010/0...

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/jan/04/record-sn...


RE: Duh...
By TSS on 4/8/2010 8:57:55 AM , Rating: 2
I'll give direct emperical evidence of this from across the ocean ^^

Here in holland, Last winter i've seen the same snow on the ground for close to 4 weeks. as in, it didn't melt.

I'm 23 years old and the previous record was the same snow for 5 days, and i thought that was long. That was when i was like 6 years old and since then i haven't seen a winter where we had more then 2 days of the same snow.

Hell i was walking between friends houses on christmas around midnight, and we could iceskate on the streets. The only time i've heard something similar is my dad talking about a day like that somewhere in the 60's.


RE: Duh...
By Grabo on 4/8/2010 9:36:49 AM , Rating: 2
From a climate perspective, individual years are irrelevant.
Usually, scientists like to talk in 30-year bits at a minimum.

This winter in Europe was pretty good. 'Pretty good' is relative though, because as mentioned individual years don't indicate much. Seen from a 100year+ perspective, the winter of 2009 wasn't all that great(data from the Swedish meteorological institute)
-->
http://www.smhi.se/polopoly_fs/1.2451!image/temp_v...

Seen from the same time frame, the yearly average is creeping up as well.
-->
http://www.smhi.se/polopoly_fs/1.2435!image/temp_a...

The combined globe average wasn't frozen solid either: "The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for February 2010 was the sixth warmest February since records began in 1880." -->
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/get-file.php?report=... - pretty picture, want to count the red and blue dots porky?


RE: Duh...
By porkpie on 4/8/2010 10:11:24 AM , Rating: 2
"From a climate perspective, individual years are irrelevant"

Temperatures have failed to increase for 15 years now, as even Dr Phil Jones -- the scientist at the heart of the ClimateGate Scandal -- now admits:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1250872/Cl...


RE: Duh...
By Grabo on 4/8/2010 10:24:27 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Temperatures have failed to increase for 15 years now, as even Dr Phil Jones -- the scientist at the heart of the ClimateGate Scandal -- now admits:


'As even'? Who else? You imply things with every third syllable, just like mr Slant.

The World Meteorological Organisation doesn't agree:
--> http://www.wmo.int/pages/mediacentre/press_release...

Sweden's temperatures do not agree:
--> http://www.smhi.se/polopoly_fs/1.2435!image/temp_a...

The NOAA doesn't agree:
-->
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/?report=global

NASA/GISS do not agree:
-->
http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.A.lrg...


RE: Duh...
By jbartabas on 4/8/2010 2:40:58 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
'As even'? Who else? You imply things with every third syllable, just like mr Slant.


Don't gratify his spin with an implicit confirmation: Jones "admitted" that "temperatures have failed to increase for 15 years now". This is a gross misrepresentation of what "statistical significance" means. Anybody with some college science education should be able to see the scam here ...


RE: Duh...
By jbartabas on 4/8/2010 2:34:36 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Temperatures have failed to increase for 15 years now, as even Dr Phil Jones -- the scientist at the heart of the ClimateGate Scandal -- now admits:


The only thing that fails here is your attempt to understand basic
statistics.


RE: Duh...
By jbartabas on 4/8/2010 3:12:46 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The rest of the planet did not have "a very warm winter". England, Russia, China, Korea, Scandinavia, and many other nations had their coldest winters in decades or, in some cases, in all recorded history:


It's really fun to go a few percent of the Earth surface at a time, but why don't you just report the global average anomaly directly (or just the northern hemisphere hemisphere if you really really want to focus on half of the Earth).


RE: Duh...
By JediJeb on 4/7/2010 5:18:10 PM , Rating: 2
One other variable that Venus has that Earth does not have is a tremendous amount of Sulfuric Acid in the atmosphere. This causes the atmospheric density to be very high compared to Earth which causes completely different dynamics of airflow and temperature gradients. It's not even like comparing Apples to Oranges but Apples to Softballs.


RE: Duh...
By 67STANG on 4/7/2010 5:27:39 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not disputing that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. I'm simply calling shenanigans that it has any real effect on what we are seeing (this year, a cool down, for example) in weather patterns. Warming and cooling trends existed before the industrial revolution and before people. They'll continue after we're all gone too-- even with no humans here to pollute.


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