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News: Corals May Have Defense Against Global Warming
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/10/071004-fossil-coral.html
 
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Orbital forcing

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Lisa Wolfe
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« on: September 30, 2010, 01:13:17 pm »

It is sometimes asserted that the length of the current interglacial temperature peak will be similar to the length of the preceding interglacial peak (Sangamonian/Eem Stage), and that therefore we might be nearing the end of this warm period. However, this conclusion is probably mistaken: the lengths of previous interglacials were not particularly regular (see graphic at right). Berger and Loutre (2002) argue that “with or without human perturbations, the current warm climate may last another 50,000 years. The reason is a minimum in the eccentricity of Earth's orbit around the Sun.”[1] Also, Archer and Ganopolski (2005) report that probable future CO2 emissions may be enough to suppress the glacial cycle for the next 500 kyr.[2]

Note in the graphic the strong 100,000 year periodicity of the cycles, and the striking asymmetry of the curves. This asymmetry is believed to result from complex interactions of feedback mechanisms. It has been observed that ice ages deepen by progressive steps, but the recovery to interglacial conditions occurs in one big step.

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 the orbit can last substantially longer. Today, when autumn and winter in the northern hemisphere occur at closest approach, the earth is moving at its maximum velocity and therefore autumn and winter are slightly shorter than spring and summer.

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