Milankovitch Theory of Ice Age Cycles Past 1,000,000 years Changes in Earths orbit about the sun results in changes in High latitude NH summer sunlight. When summer sunlight is low ice sheets can slowly grow from year to year. Orbital factors include: Changes in Earth axial tilt (now 23.5 degrees) Changes in the eccentricity of Earths orbit. And the precession of perihelion.
Earths Axial Tilt No Tilt no seasons Extreme tilt extreme seasons
What does Precession of perihelion mean? Today we are actually closer to the sun during winter and farthest during summer. Earth is at its perihelion position (position of closest approach) on January 4. This make for cooler summers and warmer winters. These conditions would promote glacial growth from year to year.
Increased greenhouse gases result in warmer surface temperatures and Cooler cooler stratospheric temperature. This results in increased abundances of Polar stratospheric clouds which enhance Ozone destruction. Thus despite the phase out of CFC production the healing of the ozone hole will likely be delayed by increases in CO2.
Ozone and Climate Change Less ozone in the stratosphere can cause a decrease in the global greenhouse effect. This likely offset global warming from 1980 to 2000 masking the true effect of increased atmospheric CO2.
Latest satellite data on Greenland mass change I've just updated the Greenland is losing ice page as a new paper analysing satellite data on Greenland mass change has been released (Wouters 2008). The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) measures changes in the Earth's gravity field and found that from February 2003 to January 2008, Greenland lost mass at a rate of 179 Gigatonnes per year. This is equivalent to a global sea level rise of 0.5mm per year. The rate is also increasing over time, suggesting an acceleration of mass loss.Greenland is losing ice pageWouters 2008 Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment
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