Orbital Forcing

Orbital forcing is the effect on climate of slow changes in the tilt of the Earth's axis and shape of the orbit (see Milankovitch cycles). These orbital changes change the total amount of sunlight reaching the Earth by up to 25% at mid-latitudes (from 400 to 500 Wm−2 at latitudes of 60 degrees). In this context, the term "forcing" signifies a physical process that affects the Earth's climate.

This mechanism is believed to be responsible for the timing of the ice age cycles. A strict application of the Milankovitch theory does not allow the prediction of a "sudden" ice age (rapid being anything under a century or two), since the fastest orbital period is about 20,000 years. The timing of past glacial periods coincides very well with the predictions of the Milankovitch theory, and these effects can be calculated into the future.

Read more about Orbital Forcing:  Overview

Other articles related to "orbital forcing, orbital, forcing":

Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum - Possible Causes - Orbital Forcing
... Orbital increase in insolation (and thus temperature) would force the system over a threshold and unleash positive feedbacks ...
Orbital Forcing - Overview
... Orbital mechanics require that the length of the seasons be proportional to the swept areas of the seasonal quadrants, so when the eccentricity is extreme, the seasons on the far side of ... of land masses on the Earth's surface are believed to reinforce the orbital forcing effects ...
Causes of Ice Ages - Variations in Earth's Orbit (Milankovitch Cycles)
... of glacial/interglacial frequencies to the Milanković orbital forcing periods is so close that orbital forcing is generally accepted ... Some workers believe that the strength of the orbital forcing is too small to trigger glaciations, but feedback mechanisms like CO2 may explain this mismatch ... While Milankovitch forcing predicts that cyclic changes in the Earth's orbital elements can be expressed in the glaciation record, additional explanations are ...

Famous quotes containing the word forcing:

    Already determined dawn began to lay
    In place across a cloud the slender ray
    For prying beneath and forcing the lids of sight,
    And loosing the pent-up music of overnight.
    Robert Frost (1874–1963)