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.
As the Earth warms, permafrost soils melt and this old carbon is released into the atmosphere as methane and CO2. Using radiocarbon dating of methane bubbles and soil organic carbon from lakes formed by melting thermafrost in Alaska, Canada, Sweden and Siberia combined with remote sensing it is found that methane and carbon dioxide releaed in the Arctic region during the past 60 years is much less than the CO2 contributed annually from anthropogenic and other sources.
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.
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.