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Evidence for Obliquity Forcing of Glacial Termination II

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Science  18 Sep 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5947, pp. 1527-1531
DOI: 10.1126/science.1170371

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Oblique Reasoning

In Milankovich theory, the canonical theory of glaciation and deglaciation, ice sheets wax and wane in response to the amount of summer insolation at a latitude of 65°N, which is consistent with the observed timing of the last deglaciation. The penultimate glaciation behaved quite differently, however. Now, Drysdale et al. (p. 1527, published online 13 August) offer firmer constraints on the timing of the penultimate deglaciation, by correlating a difficult-to-date marine record of ocean volume to a precisely datable nearby speleothem (terrestrial stalagmite). Ocean volume began to increase about 141,000 years ago, thousands of years before the rise in 65°N summer insolation. Thus, instead of the forcing mechanism proposed by Milankovich, variations in Earth's obliquity may be mostly responsible for the disappearance of ice sheets.

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