Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Boston university researchers develop new model of ice volume change based on Earth's orbit

Model suggests Antarctic ice sheets more dynamic than previously believed

Through dated geological records scientists have known for decades that variations in the Earth's orbit around the sun – subtle changes in the distance between the two – control ice ages. But, for the first 2 million years of the Northern Hemisphere Ice Age there has always been a mismatch between the timing of ice sheet changes and the Earth's orbital parameters.

A new model of ice volume change developed by Boston University researchers Maureen Raymo and Lorraine Lisiecki proposes a reason for this discrepancy. Like other models, it is consistent with traditional Milankovitch theory – which holds that the three cyclical changes in the Earth's orbit around the Sun (obliquity, precession, and eccentricity) influence the severity of seasons and high latitude temperatures over time. However, the new model differs from earlier ones in that it allows for a much more dynamic Antarctic ice sheet.

According to the researchers, from 3 million years ago to about 0.8 million years ago, Northern Hemisphere ice volume appears to have varied mostly with the 41,000 year period of obliquity – the periodic shift in the direction or tilt of Earth's axis. However, summer insolation (incoming solar radiation), which is widely believed to be the major influence on high-latitude climate and ice volume change, is typically dominated by the 23,000 year precessional period – the slow "wobble" of the Earth on its axis.

"Because summer insolation is controlled by precession, and summer heating controls ice sheet mass balance, it is difficult to understand why the ice volume record is dominated by the obliquity frequency," said Dr. Raymo. "It's not a complete mismatch, but the precession frequency we think should be strong in geological records is not."

The new model proposes that during this time, ice volume changes occurred in both the Northern Hemisphere and Antarctica, each controlled by different amounts of local summer insolation paced by precession.

"The reason the frequency is not observable in records is because ice volume change occurred at both poles, but out of phase with each other. When ice was growing in the Northern Hemisphere, it was melting in the Southern," said Raymo.

The team believes scientists have been operating under the assumption that Antarctica has been exceptionally stable for 3 million years and very difficult to change climatically. "We don't tend to think of ice volume in that region as varying significantly, even on geologic time scales," said Raymo. "However, only a modest change in Antarctic ice mass is required to "cancel" a much larger Northern ice volume signal."

Records used to measure the ice volume, such as sea levels, integrate the whole world. According to Raymo, the new model demonstrates that while the precession frequency is actually strong in ice volume changes at each pole, in geologic records Northern and Southern hemisphere ice volume trends act to cancel each other out at this frequency.

The paper, which was published online today and will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Science, proposes that the Antarctic ice sheet is more dynamic and far more capable of change than previously believed.

"If our theory holds true, it is a cause for concern with regard to climate changes not associated with orbital patterns as well," said Raymo.

Kira Edler | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Receding glaciers in Bolivia leave communities at risk
20.10.2016 | European Geosciences Union

nachricht UM researchers study vast carbon residue of ocean life
19.10.2016 | University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>