Articles

Stability of the Astronomical Frequencies Over the Earth's History for Paleoclimate Studies

Science  31 Jan 1992:
Vol. 255, Issue 5044, pp. 560-566
DOI: 10.1126/science.255.5044.560

Abstract

The expected changes over the past 500 million years in the principal astronomical frequencies influencing the Earth's climate may be strong enough to be detectable in the geological records, and such effects have been inferred in several cases. Calculations suggest that the shortening of the Earth-moon distance and of the length of the day back in time induced a shortening of the fundamental periods for the obliquity and climatic precession, from 54 to 35, 41 to 29, 23 to 19, and 19 to 16 thousand years over the last half-billion years. At the same time, the precessional constant increased from 50 to 61 arc seconds per year. The changes in the frequencies of the planetary system due to its chaotic motion are much smaller; their influence on the changes of the periods of climatic precession, obliquity, and eccentricity of the Earth's orbit around the sun can be neglected. Eccentricity periods used for Quaternary climate studies may therefore be considered to have been more or less constant for pre-Quaternary times.

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