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A first-order global model of Late Cenozoic climatic change: Orbital forcing as a pacemaker of the ice agesThe development of a theory of the evolution of the climate of the earth over millions of years can be subdivided into three fundamental, nested, problems: (1) to establish by equilibrium climate models (e.g., general circulation models) the diagnostic relations, valid at any time, between the fast-response climate variables (i.e., the 'weather statistics') and both the prescribed external radiative forcing and the prescribed distribution of the slow response variables (e.g., the ice sheets and shelves, the deep ocean state, and the atmospheric CO2 concentration); (2) to construct, by an essentially inductive process, a model of the time-dependent evolution of the slow-response climatic variables over time scales longer than the damping times of these variables but shorter than the time scale of tectonic changes in the boundary conditions (e.g., altered geography and elevation of the continents, slow outgassing, and weathering) and ultra-slow astronomical changes such as in the solar radiative output; and (3) to determine the nature of these ultra-slow processes and their effects on the evolution of the equilibrium state of the climatic system about which the above time-dependent variations occur. All three problems are discussed in the context of the theory of the Quaternary climate, which will be incomplete unless it is embedded in a more general theory for the fuller Cenozoic that can accommodate the onset of the ice-age fluctuations. We construct a simple mathematical model for the Late Cenozoic climatic changes based on the hypothesis that forced and free variations of the concentration of atmospheric greenhouse gases (notably CO2), coupled with changes in the deep ocean state and ice mass, under the additional 'pacemaking' influence of earth-orbital forcing, are primary determinants of the climate state over this period. Our goal is to illustrate how a single model governing both very long term variations and higher frequency oscillatory variations in the Pleistocene can be formulated with relatively few adjustable parameters.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Saltzman, Barry (Yale Univ. New Haven, CT, 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
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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IDRelationTitle19930009773Analytic PrimaryOrbital, Rotational, and Climatic Interactions