Exploring the Milankovich Cycles

September, 2012

Milutin Milankovich, a Serbian mathematician, astronomer, and engineer solved the mystery of what caused major ice ages over the last half-million years of Earth's history. He showed that regular changes in Earth's orbit result in periods of lower global temperature, and these periods correspond to the timing of past ice ages.

Explore the visualization yourself, or follow the instructions below to help you understand how changes in three orbital parameters have affected global temperature.


Orbital Parameters:                     

Check out the controls

Explore each of the three orbital parameters:

  1. Eccentricity
  2. Precession
  3. Tilt

C. Compare all orbital parameters to Earth's past temperature.

This applet is Copyright © 2012 by Tom Whittaker.
Text provided by LuAnn Dahlman.