In this study the global average surface temperature over the past 2 million years has been derived from deep sea cores. The results reveal that global cooling occurred about 300,000 years before the rapid ice sheet growth and the development of the first 100,000-year glacial/deglacial cycle about 800,000 years ago.
This seminal 1976 paper tested the Milnkovitch orbital forcing hypothesis by comparing the 450,000 year geological record of the climate as recorded in marine sediments with the cycle of variations in Earth’s tilt and orbit. The analysis finds clear evidence for orbital forcing in the marine sediment record, but the authors conclude that orbital forcing by itself is not able to explain the dominant 100,000 year glacial/deglacial cycle.
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.
In 1997 Raymo was the first to provide observations supporting the orbital forcing hypothesis for glacial/deglacial cycles that did not rely on orbital tuning. The research also suggested that ice sheet dynamics needed to be considered in addition to orbital forcing to explain the observed 100,000 year glacial/deglacial cycles.