News of the WeekPaleoclimatology

An Orbital Confluence Leaves Its Mark

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Science  13 Apr 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5515, pp. 191
DOI: 10.1126/science.292.5515.191

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On page 274 of this issue, paleoceanographers report that 23 million years ago a rare combination of the shape of Earth's orbit and the tilt of its rotation axis led to a brief climatic cooling and buildup of ice on Antarctica. This, in turn, lowered sea level and exposed the shallow sea floor to erosion, creating the Oligocene-Miocene boundary. The convergence of orbital variations provides further support for the power of orbital variations to influence climate.