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Modeling orbital changes on tectonic time scalesGeologic time series indicate significant 100 ka and 400 ka pre-Pleistocene climate fluctuations, prior to the time of such fluctuations in Pleistocene ice sheets. The origin of these fluctuations must therefore depend on phenomena other than the ice sheets. In a previous set of experiments, we tested the sensitivity of an energy balance model to orbital insolation forcing, specifically focusing on the filtering effect of the Earth's geography. We found that in equatorial areas, the twice-yearly passage of the sun across the equator interacts with the precession index to generate 100 ka and 400 ka power in our modeled time series. The effect is proportional to the magnitude of land in equatorial regions. We suggest that such changes may reflect monsoonal variations in the real climate system, and the subsequent wind and weathering changes may transfer some of this signal to the marine record. A comparison with observed fluctuations of Triassic lake levels is quite favorable. A number of problems remain to be studied or clarified: (1) the EBM experiments need to be followed up by a limited number of GCM experiments; (2) the sensitivity to secular changes in orbital forcing needs to be examined; (3) the possible modifying role of sedimentary processes on geologic time series warrants considerably more study; (4) the effect of tectonic changes on Earth's rotation rate needs to be studied; and (5) astronomers need to make explicit which of their predictions are robust and geologists and astronomers have to agree on which of the predictions are most testable in the geologic record.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Crowley, Thomas J.
(Applied Research Corp. College Station, TX, United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
December 1, 1992
Publication Information
Publication: NASA. Goddard Space Flight Center, Orbital, Rotational and Climatic Interactions
Subject Category
Accession Number
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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