What Changes in Seasonality Should Arise as Consequences of Milankovitch Cycles
A century ago, Serbian scientist Milutin Milankovitch hypothesized the long-term, collective effects of changes in Earth’s position relative to the Sun are a strong driver of Earth’s long-term climate, and are responsible for triggering the beginning and end of glaciation periods (Ice Ages).
The precessional cycle is the key player behind the Holocene Climate Optimum, a time between ~7,000 and 5,000 years ago of particularly warm Northern Hemispheric extratropical summers, and colder tropical and extratropical winters. It is important to note that under the precessional cycle, the change in solar radiation striking the Earth is opposite in each hemisphere, unlike the case of obliquity where a higher tilt will mean more intense radiation at both poles as the planet revolves around the sun (although, obviously at the local summer summer for both poles, and thus at different points in the orbit). Furthermore, eccentricity modulates the effect of precession. For zero eccentricity, the precession angle is irrelevant.
In systems that do not form any giant planets and have no distant companions, there is no obvious mechanism by which large eccentricities should be induced in Earth-like planets. We therefore expect planets in such systems to have relatively circular orbits (Raymond et al. 2007).As a result, the existence of a low-temperature equilibrium climate might be a generic feature of water-rich terrestrial planets, and such planets might have a tendency to enter snowball states (Tajika 2008).
The geologic record of these climate cycles is a powerful tool for reconstructing geologic time, for understanding ancient climate change, and for evaluating the history of our solar system, but their reliability dramatically decreases beyond 50 Ma.
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