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.
Improved data coverage and analysis has made it possible to reconstruct temperature profiles across most ocean basins and at all depths to 6000 meters (m) from 1960 to 2015. The reconstructions reveal accelerating heating in the upper layers above 2000 m. Ocean warming is stronger since the late 1980s compared to the 1960s to the 1980s.
A recent study has created a simple mathematical rule that can account for the timing of the onset of interglacials following ice ages over the past three million years. The rule is based on predictable long-term astronomical variations in the Earth’s orbit and tilt called Milankovitch cycles.
The last deglaciation was characterized by increases in surface temperatures of 10-15 °C punctuated by millennial-scale warming/cooling periods, pulses of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide and asynchronously increasing methane. A geospatial-temporal variance analysis reveals a global warming trend correlating with rising CO2 on which is superimposed second trend millennial-scale regional warming/cooling periods associated with variation in the strength of the Atlantic overturning current.