Approximately 800,000 years ago something changed in the Earth’s climate system that led to the climate then following a series of approximately 100,000 year cycles. Small, predictable changes in the Earth’s orbit about the Sun act as triggers for the glacial and interglacial periods, but other factors such as ice sheet volume, CO2 concentration, and biological feedback mechanisms are also involved.
New evidence from analyzing fossil plankton shells has revealed that CO2 concentration in the Earth’s atmosphere was about triple current levels around 52 million years ago. It then declined to levels close to current atmospheric CO2 concentration 34 million years ago when Antarctica began to glaciate.
It is known that orbital forcing is involved in glacial/deglacial cycles but is insufficient by itself to explain the glacial/deglacial cycles. This study argues that a biological feedback mechanism kicks in when a threshold is reached and together with orbital forcing results in the sustained and rapidly increasing CO2 and surface temperature of a deglaciation.
In this new study an analysis of new global ocean and land temperature data with corrections to older shipboard measurements reveals that the temperature trend over the period 2000-2014 does not differ from the temperature trend over the period 1950-1999. It is concluded that the “hiatus” reported in IPCC AR5 is most likely an artifact of older measurement techniques.