Geologist discovers pattern in Earth's long-term climate record

Apr 06, 2010
This is Lorraine Lisiecki from University of California, Santa Barbara. Credit: UCSB

In an analysis of the past 1.2 million years, UC Santa Barbara geologist Lorraine Lisiecki discovered a pattern that connects the regular changes of the Earth's orbital cycle to changes in the Earth's climate. The finding is reported in this week's issue of the scientific journal Nature Geoscience.

Lisiecki performed her analysis of climate by examining ocean cores. These cores come from 57 locations around the world. By analyzing sediments, scientists are able to chart the Earth's climate for millions of years in the past. Lisiecki's contribution is the linking of the climate record to the history of the Earth's orbit.

It is known that the Earth's orbit around the sun changes shape every 100,000 years. The orbit becomes either more round or more elliptical at these intervals. The shape of the orbit is known as its "eccentricity." A related aspect is the 41,000-year cycle in the tilt of the Earth's axis.

Glaciation of the Earth also occurs every 100,000 years. Lisiecki found that the timing of changes in climate and eccentricity coincided. "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," said Lisiecki. "It is unlikely that these events would not be related to one another."

Besides finding a link between change in the shape of the orbit and the onset of , Lisiecki found a surprising correlation. She discovered that the largest glacial cycles occurred during the weakest changes in the eccentricity of Earth's orbit -- and vice versa. She found that the stronger changes in the Earth's orbit correlated to weaker changes in climate. "This may mean that the Earth's climate has internal instability in addition to sensitivity to changes in the orbit," said Lisiecki.

She concludes that the pattern of over the past million years likely involves complicated interactions between different parts of the climate system, as well as three different orbital systems. The first two orbital systems are the orbit's eccentricity, and tilt. The third is "precession," or a change in the orientation of the rotation axis.

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User comments : 24

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x646d63
5 / 5 (5) Apr 06, 2010
This would be useful information if it was related to today, i.e., where are we in the cycle?
turnup4thebooks
5 / 5 (4) Apr 06, 2010
Doesn't Milankovitch theory already make these connections?
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (3) Apr 06, 2010
This paper is a reinforcement of the tennets of Milankovitch cycles with one MAJOR exception.

It shows correlation correcting the 100,000 year problem within the original framework.
Bob_B
4 / 5 (1) Apr 06, 2010
Why can't physorg put in pronunciation for names like "Lisiecki"?

I'd like to talk about this development with others, but mispronouncing the name doesn't help.
stealthc
1.6 / 5 (14) Apr 06, 2010
there are major ice ages too, 4 of them in fact, so how do these tie in? Either way since the last ice age was 20,000 years ago, aren't we emerging from one still and shouldn't the planet be warming? Who would have thought that there are bigger forces than us humans driving climate change?

I mean there's only the moon, our orbit, the sun, nearby supernovae, our path through the milky way (since we dip back and fourth from the dense middle to the lesser dense exterior core, we do not follow a circular orbit in our galaxy, more like one of them spyrograph childrens toys than a circle).

Not only are you eco-lunatics fixated on blaming us as the culprits no matter what, studies show you to be bigger liars, thieves and cheats.
HaveYouConsidered
3.3 / 5 (3) Apr 06, 2010
You didn't address the obvious question: when is the next ice age, according to her model?
stealthc
1.4 / 5 (9) Apr 06, 2010
80,000 years from now.

Though as we are told, we are currently in the middle of an ice age, one of the 4 major ones that last millions of years, and sort of emerging from a double whammy ice age, the last one 20,000 years ago in the middle of a major longer cycle ice age.

Either way we have another about 30,000 years of warming up to do before we begin the next one.
gmurphy
2.6 / 5 (5) Apr 06, 2010
where are these "studies" stealthc?, I call bullshit
THoKling
2.6 / 5 (5) Apr 06, 2010
qmurphy: Every study disproving human-caused climate change is what stealthc is referring to. Dig amidst Physorg's panic-striken articles about climate change and you'll find'em. :>
pubwvj
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 06, 2010
80,000 years from now.


Good thing. Ice ages are nasty. I would far prefer global warming to global cooling.
JayK
3.4 / 5 (5) Apr 06, 2010
@THoKlingy: There are studies? Do you mean like scientific studies or those thingies that McIntyre posts on Watts' Wonderific Wipple Blog? Those aren't so much studies as they are nice crayon drawings of unicorns and snow on white paper.
jerryd
4.2 / 5 (5) Apr 06, 2010

We are at the end of the warming period, not the beginning. The Ice Age ended about 10k yrs ago when the ice sheets retreated, which is about the standard time of warming periods. None of you caught this? Where were you in science class?
MikPetter
1 / 5 (1) Apr 06, 2010
“Comparison of the ends of MIS-11 and the Holocene based on timings relative to their respective maxima in mean 21 June insolation at 65°N suggests that the end of Holocene conditions might have been expected 2.0–2.5 ky ago. Instead, interglacial conditions have continued, with CO2, temperature, and sea level remaining high or increasing. This apparent discrepancy highlights the need to consider that: (a) comparisons may need to focus on other orbital control indices, in which case the discrepancy can vanish; and/or (b) the feedback mechanisms that dominate the planetary energy balance may have become decoupled from insolation during the past 2 millennia.”
Comparison between Holocene and Marine Isotope Stage-11 sea-level histories
E.J. Rohlinga, et al Earth and Planetary Science Letters March 2010
MikPetter
1 / 5 (1) Apr 06, 2010
“Comparison of the ends of MIS-11 and the Holocene based on timings relative to their respective maxima in mean 21 June insolation at 65°N suggests that the end of Holocene conditions might have been expected 2.0–2.5 ky ago. Instead, interglacial conditions have continued, with CO2, temperature, and sea level remaining high or increasing. This apparent discrepancy highlights the need to consider that:
(a) comparisons may need to focus on other orbital control indices, in which case the discrepancy can vanish; and/or (b) the feedback mechanisms that dominate the planetary energy balance may have become decoupled from insolation during the past 2 millennia.”
Comparison between Holocene and Marine Isotope Stage-11 sea-level histories
E.J. Rohlinga, et al Earth and Planetary Science Letters March 2010
MikPetter
1 / 5 (1) Apr 06, 2010
Comparison of the ends of MIS-11 and the Holocene based on
timings relative to their respective maxima in mean 21 June
insolation at 65N suggests that the end of Holocene conditions
might have been expected 2.0-2.5 ky ago. Instead, interglacial
conditions have continued, with CO2, temperature, and sea level
remaining high or increasing."
(on the other hand) "... based on the record of integrated summer energy at 65N
.... that modern sea level instead may remain high for another 2 kyr."

Comparison between Holocene and Marine Isotope Stage-11 sea-level histories
E.J. Rohling, et al - Earth and Planetary Science Letters March 2010
omatumr
1.3 / 5 (12) Apr 06, 2010
Congratulations are in order for Lorraine Lisiecki and UC Santa Barbara.

The Solar System is indeed a system of interconnected parts!

All of the material that orbits the Sun was partially ejected from the Sun five (5) billion years ago.

Material that was ejected axially escaped. That material is no longer bound to the Sun and is not part of the closely interconnected parts of the Solar System.

I hope that Lorraine and other geologists will have better luck than astrologers have had in communicating these findings to astronomers and solar physicists.

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Emeritus Professor
Nuclear & Space Sciences
Former NASA PI for Apollo
mary_hinge
5 / 5 (3) Apr 09, 2010
Of course climate change septics actually believe astrologogy is responsible for global warming and have put it into law:- http://legis.stat...009P.htm

See where anti-science gets you, next stop evolution...gravity...
hopper
2 / 5 (4) Apr 10, 2010
All the long term graphs which correlate temperature rise and fall with carbon dioxide rising and falling also show that rising and falling temperature levels always PRECEDE rising and falling carbon dioxide levels. In terms of cause and effect, because changes in temperature PRECEDE changes in carbon dioxide level-- the the data suggest that more likely scenario is that changes in temperature CAUSE changes in carbon dioxide levels rather than vice versa.

Therefor carbon dioxide mitigation procedures are useless--if the point is to effect temperature.
thermodynamics
4.4 / 5 (5) Apr 10, 2010
hopper: Great observation. And it is absolutely true. It is also why using this as an excuse for dismissing the role of CO2 in global warming is naive.
Let me explain. In the past, as natural variation caused the earth to warm, the reservoirs of CO2 and methane that were trapped in tundra or clatherates were released by the warming climate. They then amplified the change. That is called positive feedback. Never in history has the CO2 gone up first and the worrisome part is that we are now reversing history by pumping CO2 into the atmosphere. This time it will be able to amplify itself due to the releases that will take place (as they always have). Likewise, H2O will increase (as the atmosphere warms it can absorb more). However, the role of water vapor is not clear since it can increase albedo due to clouds. So, you are correct in your observation, but your conclusions is absolutely wrong. CO2 leading is a potentially bad thing.
micahgtb
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 10, 2010
there are major ice ages too, 4 of them in fact, so how do these tie in? Either way since the last ice age was 20,000 years ago, aren't we emerging from one still and shouldn't the planet be warming? Who would have thought that there are bigger forces than us humans driving climate change?

I mean there's only the moon, our orbit, the sun, nearby supernovae, our path through the milky way (since we dip back and fourth from the dense middle to the lesser dense exterior core, we do not follow a circular orbit in our galaxy, more like one of them spyrograph childrens toys than a circle).

Not only are you eco-lunatics fixated on blaming us as the culprits no matter what, studies show you to be bigger liars, thieves and cheats.


Yes, because wanting to stop the Human pollution of our ONLY planet is a terrible terrible thing and people should just ignore it.
Shootist
1.3 / 5 (11) Apr 11, 2010
hopper: Great observation. And it is absolutely true. It is also why using this as an excuse for dismissing the role of CO2 in global warming is naive.


CO2 too tiny.

water vapor more relevant. methane more relevant. cloud cover more relevant. color of foliage more relevant. cosmic rays more relevant. almost everything, more relevant.

CO2 boogyman designed to scare serfs into giving control of their lives and fortunes to government and their corporate minions. Or is that Business and their government minions? You pick. Either way you give up money, self determination and the hope for a better tomorrow.
CWFlink
1.2 / 5 (5) Apr 11, 2010
Children, children.... learn to play together well.

One thing is very clear.... NONE of the experts know enough to be definitive about anything when it comes to the THEORY of man made global warming.

Certainly there is some impact, but compared to volcano vaporizing a lake of oil? ...burning thousands of square miles of forest or grasslands?

Oh? It never happened that way in nature? You can prove that?

We really don't know enough facts yet, but when you compare all the ways we can destroy human life on this planet, I think war, disease, economic collapse and the politics of ignorance are all more scary than man made global warming.

politics of ignorance: exploiting our ignorance for political gain: instigating fear, hate, envy and casting unjustified blame.

Fix those problems and we can get back to AGW.
SteveL
not rated yet Apr 12, 2010
Um, please tell me what is the difference between this finding and the one located here (over 2 years ago):

http://www.physor...955.html

It's in the "Related Storeis box". Looks like old news brought out and buffed up to me.
Skeptic_Heretic
not rated yet Apr 12, 2010
Yes, because wanting to stop the Human pollution of our ONLY planet is a terrible terrible thing and people should just ignore it.

No one is saying that, we're against decrying all forms of human influence as pollution without proper merit.

Rather than wasting time on CO2 if it's a nonelement how about we start by limiting oil use and clean up the plastics we've dumped into the ocean.