Pacemaking the Ice Ages by Frequency Modulation of Earth's Orbital Eccentricity

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Science  23 Jul 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5427, pp. 564-568
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5427.564

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Evidence from power spectra of deep-sea oxygen isotope time series suggests that the climate system of Earth responds nonlinearly to astronomical forcing by frequency modulating eccentricity-related variations in insolation. With the help of a simple model, it is shown that frequency modulation of the approximate 100,000-year eccentricity cycles by the 413,000-year component accounts for the variable duration of the ice ages, the multiple-peak character of the time series spectra, and the notorious absence of significant spectral amplitude at the 413,000-year period. The observed spectra are consistent with the classic Milankovitch theories of insolation, so that climate forcing by 100,000-year variations in orbital inclination that cause periodic dust accretion appear unnecessary.

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