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.
High-resolution Greenland ice core records reveal two warming events at the end of the last ice age involved warming of more than 10 °C. Furthermore the warming transition beginning 14,700 years ago occurred within only three years.
In contrast to West Antarctica where several large glaciers have been losing ice for decades, East Antarctica glaciers have exhibited little evidence of ice loss but NASA’s latest detailed maps of East Antarctica ice velocity and elevation show that a number of glaciers have begun to lose ice over the past decade.
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.