A seminal book by Milankovitch in 1941 proposed that the sequence of ice ages that has characterized long term changes in the Earth’s climate over the past hundreds of thousands of years was due to changes in the amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth as a result of small variations in the Earth’s orientation and orbit with respect to the sun. Since then research has shown that Milankovitch cycles by themselves do not determine the timing of glacial and interglacial cycles and that we still lack a unified mechanism that links changes in Earth’s orbit to ice ages.
This study reports measurements from ocean floor sediments that provide the first direct evidence that not only do variations in the primary North/South Atlantic current correlate with periods of rapid warming and slower cooling in the Northern Hemisphere during the last ice age, but that the changes in the Atlantic overturning current occurred before and likely initiated these warming/cooling cycles.
The source of the accelerating rise in atmospheric methane concentration since 2007 remains an open question. A recent study using satellite imagery suggests that the increase may be ascribed to increased fossil fuels and livestock sources in roughly equal measure.
Based on the trend that greenhouse gases are increasing rapidly whereas solar irradiance is changing much more slowly, the evidence reveals that the climate impact of changes in solar irradiance are much smaller in magnitude than the increase in warming due to greenhouse gases.