Oops, we’ve broken the ice age cycle

Posted: January 13, 2016 by Andrew in alarmism, Ice ages, modelling

credit: P.Schubert


That’s gone and done it, it should be freezing but it’s not and it’s all our fault, obviously.

ARS Technica have a new climate disaster to blame humans for. Actually more of a rehash of an old disaster, with added CO2 modelling, to give it a face lift.

From the website:

Recorded human history has played out within one type of climate—an interglacial period. During the glacial periods of the last million years (commonly referred to as “ice ages”), great ice sheets grew to cover Canada and some points south, as well as Northern Europe and much of Russia.

In the 1970s, we learned there was a consistent 100,000-year heartbeat to this back-and-forth cycle governed by subtle patterns in Earth’s orbit. The thing is, it’s about time for the next heartbeat. We’re at the part of the cycle where the interglacial period should be wrapping up and the slow but inexorable descent into another ice age would begin.

But that hasn’t happened, and it’s not going to any time soon. Our current breakneck emissions of greenhouse gases will see to that. Still, the scientific question is worth asking: what, exactly, does it take to start off an ice age?

We are currently at a low point in summer sunlight reaching the northern high latitude region, which is how the orbital cycles turn into glacial cycles. Because there are several orbital cycles involved, the peaks and valleys in that sunlight are complex—it’s not as simple as a sine wave oscillating between a constant high and a constant low. But there were two interglacial periods in the last million years (one 400,000 years ago and one 800,000 years ago) with a similar combination of orbital cycles. Both crossed the threshold into an ice age when they hit this low point in sunlight.

To compare those two time periods with the present day, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research scientists Andrey Ganopolski, Ricarda Winkelmann, and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber ran a pile of model simulations. They found a consistent relationship between the amount of sunlight and the concentration of atmospheric CO2 that allowed simulations to start an ice age.

At the end of the interglacial 800,000 years ago, the low in sunlight was about the same as today, but CO2 was at 240 parts per million—prior to the industrial revolution, our CO2 concentration was 280 parts per million. At the end of the interglacial 400,000 years ago, CO2 was also about 280 parts per million, but an ice age started because the low point in sunlight was just a bit lower. The researchers conclude that we narrowly missed an ice age off-ramp in the past few thousand years because CO2 was just a touch too high. Lower the concentration by just 40 parts per million in the model, and ice sheets would already be growing by now—though the fossil fuel revolution would still be dictating a planetary U-turn.

There are a couple interesting things to note about this. One is that it’s possible humans were responsible for higher CO2 concentrations even before the industrial revolution. There’s a debate among climate scientists about whether the advent of agriculture and deforestation had a significant impact thousands of years ago, forestalling the beginning of an ice age as a result.

Whether or not humans were responsible for CO2 being slightly too high, there’s another interesting implication. With CO2 at 280 parts per million, the next opportunity to cross into an ice age is about 50,000 years away in the models. That would make the present interglacial period longer than any in the last million years.

That is, however, somewhat academic given our current massive-scale experiment with the climate system. To investigate more relevant scenarios, the researchers ran simulations of three futures: one in which we basically stop emitting CO2 now, one in which we emit double what we have so far, and one where we triple it. (If we do nothing to reduce emissions, we’ll hit quadruple by the year 2100.) In the low-emissions scenario, we skip any real ice sheet growth for at least 50,000 years. In the high-emissions scenario, there’s basically no chance of dropping into any kind of ice age within the next 100,000 years, which was as long as the simulations ran. That’s because it takes a very long time for CO2 concentrations to naturally decline.

Most of these conclusions have been reached by one or another study in the past, but the sunlight/CO2 relationship that sets the ice age threshold is new, and shows how close we came in the last few millennia. Since people are often naturally curious about the future of the ice age cycle, the reality bears repeating: we broke it.

Link to Nature article



  1. I believe that:

    Because of our intelligence and use of tools, including fire we have mastered our own environment, and as an outcome of our deforestation of the earth and our use of fire we have added CO2 to the atmosphere. As the temperature warmed up at the start of the last interglacial, the growth of human populations across all continents, altered the biosphere, and these contributions tipped the balance.
    It appears that human adaption into every available niche and our attempts to keep warm and use the environment serendipitously saved the planet by eliminating the ice ages. If you don’t believe me look up snowball earth and see what could have happened

  2. Graeme No.3 says:

    Potsdam Institute says “By 2100 no child will know what snow looks like”.

    I’d believe that if their record of failed predictions wasn’t so long.

  3. tallbloke says:

    Global warming has been nice while it’s lasted.

  4. no we’ll get 10,000 more years of warming while orbital increase of solar radiation increases.

  5. sorry orbital forcing of solar radiation increases temperature

  6. craigm350 says:

    I played a game on my young nephew last xmas with some electric candles. Everytime he waggled his fingers hey presto! the candle went on/off. He never saw me with the remote control and so didn’t understand the underlying mechanism but obviously the operation of the candle was down to him – bless. Need I say more? 🙂

  7. ntesdorf says:

    You would think that this was good news, but the Warmistas view it as yet another of the great climate tragedies. We are saved from freezing but tragedies keep the funding flowing.

  8. Jim Steele says:

    Awwwh the Good Ol days when ice covered most of North America, growing seasons were reduced and nearly all life struggled. We need higher taxes to fund whacky geoengineering projects and bring back the ice ages.

  9. oldbrew says:

    ‘In the 1970s, we learned there was a consistent 100,000-year heartbeat to this back-and-forth cycle governed by subtle patterns in Earth’s orbit. The thing is, it’s about time for the next heartbeat.’

    Not necessarily. Ralph Ellis has a theory that ice age frequency is a bit variable and the 100,000 years is only a rough average.

    Abstract and link to science paper here:

  10. Don Keiller says:

    It’s worse than we thought!!!

    What a load of ARSwipe

  11. E.M.Smith says:

    Completely ignores that cold plunges are usually preceeded by hot excursions and that the next glacial entry could be any time from now to about 2500 years from now, no CO2 effect matters.

    Heinrich Events, Dansgaard O. events, and Bond Events are not CO2 related or controlled at all.

    We ARE headed into the next glacial, just a question of “decades, centuries, or a couple of millennia? “. Odds are against millenia.

    The entry is wobbly and slow, though faster cycles go swiftly, and the Little Ice Age could easily have been the actual start, with this warm time being the Swan Song wobble of a fast cycle before the final plunge. IF we are already in the entry, there’s a 1500 year cycle with 750 year and 325 year sub harmonics. L.I.A. was centered on about 1600 while the M.W.P. centers on about 1100 A.D. That makes the present warm period about 1/2 cycle offset. The prior Bond Event was in about 600 A.D. (the Dark Ages) and that makes the LIA a Half Cycle Event, with the next down cycle entry of a full cold cycle due about now. (540 A.D. + 1500 = 2040 A.D.)

    Ignore those cycles and pray to the Magic Gas God and death and destruction will follow.

  12. p.g.sharrow says:

    @EMSmith; hey man! the magic gas god is our friend. It is those Ecoloons that pray for cold and death of mankind by elimination of the magic gas.. 😉 …pg

  13. jdmcl says:

    It looks like the Postdam Institute wants more funding from the German government. For “ran a pile of model simulations” please read “ran models to create a pile of ****” because as the latest IPCC report showed, climate models are unreliable.

    Can I also remind you that one of the authors of this nonsense is Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, who I believe advised the pope on the already-forgotten papal bull(***t).

  14. D.Gibson says:

    Burying the lead here. These folks have solved the riddle of what causes ice ages and when they will occur! I guess Al Gore should send his Nobel prize to Exxon for saving the globe 😉

  15. Americans used to call this baloney. Now they can tell the difference and so can the Germans. This paper won’t stand.

    Loutre and Berger estimated that the present inter-glacial might last for another 40,000 years based on orbital parameters.

    I find it hard to believe that humans are going to be able to delay the onset of glaciation by much for three reasons.

    Climate sensitivity is overestimated by the models. And humans are already shifting to hydrogen for energy (methane / natural gas) and hydrogen fusion technology cannot be that far off in the future.

    Even if so, China will be licensing thorium reactors in the near future and that will revolutionize nuclear energy prospects, at least in developing countries.

    Abstract of Marine Isotope Stage 11 as an analogue for the present interglacial

    Past analogues for our present interglacial or even warmer periods have been sought in order to better understand our present and future climate. Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 5, more precisely substage 5e, has long been considered to be a good candidate. However, there were some elements against this analogy in the data themselves [Kukla et al. Quat. Sci. Rev. 16 (6) (1997) 605], as well as in the mechanisms [Berger, 1989 Response of the climate system to CO 2 and astronomical forcings. In: Paleo-Analogs, IPCC Working Group I, Bath, 20-21 November 1989] and forcing related to both periods. Here we suggest that the period from 405 to 340 ka before present (BP), including a large part of Marine Isotope Stage 11, could be a good analogue for future climate. The insolation over this interval shows a strong linear correlation with the insolation signal over the recent past and the future. In addition, simulations using the climate model developed in Louvain-la-Neuve (LLN 2-D NH) show that both MIS 11 and the future are characterized by small amount (if any) of continental ice, with almost no variation during the whole interval. In contrast, MIS 5 is exhibiting larger variability in simulated ice volume. This confirms that the interval [405-340 ka BP] may lead to a better understanding of our present and future warm climate.

    Loutre, M. F., and A. Berger. “Marine Isotope Stage 11 as an analogue for the present interglacial.” Global and Planetary Change 3.36 (2003): 209-217.

  16. The idiots who produce these assertions will not even admit they haven’t a clue what causes the ice-age cycle and therefore they have no idea whatsoever how anything that they think might be happening to the climate might affect that cycle.

    … it’s like watching someone who’s never done it before try to ride a uni-cycle – they are all cocky before they get on – but we know they are bound to fail

  17. Glacial cycles…… no we can’t have cycles it’s a figment of the data… we only see cycles because we want to see cycles….. once you look over a long enough period there aren’t any cycles…. /sarc!

  18. tom0mason says:

    I recommend people look at HJ Schellnhuber contributions to science — here , before making a decision about Herr Schellnhuber’s research bona-fides.


  19. ralph ellis says:

    This paper is complete nonsense. A disgrace to the profession. Here are the facts.

    a. The extension of the Holocene interglacial is due to orbital eccentricity being low at present. This prevents a precessional Great Winter after the interglacial Great Summer, so there is no great fall in insolation forcing. Instead the Holocene interglacial relies much more on obliquity, which is at a maximum at present, and the obliquity maximum lasts for 20 kys. And so the interglacial can extend – helped in part by Willis Eschenbach et al’s cloud thermostat system. The last time these same orbital events coincided was 400 kyr ago, and the interglacial then was equally long – and that long interglacial had nothing to do with man’s emissions.

    b. The reason there will be no ice age for another 100 kyr, is that eccentricity will remain low for the next 100 kyr, and so there is not going to be a precessional Great Winter for all that time. An ice age is initiated by a Great Winter, and is then continued by the growth of ice sheets and their high albedo. And it gets to a stage where even a subsequent Great Summer cannot melt the ice sheets, because their albedo is too high and the Great Summer insolation is all reflected away.

    c. So if man is beginning to effect the climate, it is more to do with industrial soot on the ice sheets (and possibly farming dust, when the fields are bare all winter). It is dust-ice albedo that controls the feedback of ice ages and interglacials, not CO2. So this proposal is wrong at all levels.

    See Clive Best’s review of the dust albedo theory, as he sums it up quite succinctly:



  20. jarlgeir says:

    I have been waiting for these charlatans to take the responsibility for adjusting the atmospheric CO2-level so we can avoid the next ice age too.

  21. J Martin says:

    @ Jim Steele. “Nearly all life struggled”. I read somewhere that the hominids were down to just 5000 souls. A glaciation nearly wiped out mankind.

  22. ren says:

    Time series
    monthly AMO hadsst

  23. Curious George says:

    Also the magnetic pole reversal is overdue. CO2 harms us in so many ways!

  24. markstoval says:

    It is utterly amazing how much pure hogwash and heifer dust comes from the con artists “climate scientists” during this era of CO2 delusion.

  25. ralfellis says:

    Ok, so I now have the original paper by Ganopolski. I do hate paywalls.

    Ganopolski is making a comparison between the present interglacial and the interglacial 400 kyr ago. This is a valid comparison because both of these interglacials happened at a time of minimum orbital eccentricity, which means that precessional insolation cannot fall to a grand minimum and the slide into an ice age can be more gradual.

    So although Ganopolski says: “insolation is close to a minimum”, it is not close to historic minimums, and nor is it as low as the minimum value 400 kyr ago. Present polar insolation is still 25 wm2 higher than the ice age 400 kyr ago. So although we will be sliding towards an ice age, because that is obviously the climate’s preferred condition, the slide will not be as fast as 400 kyr ago. (And will be reversed soon, because NH insolation is about to increase again.)

    The NH polar insolation that forced an ice age 400 kyr ago was lower than it is now:

    Ganopolski then says: “there is no evidence (in the current era) for the beginning of a new ice age”. This is not exactly true, because there has been a clear slide from the Holocene maximum into cooler conditions. And because precession is at a minimum, that slow slide is more influenced by the slow fall in obliquity insolation. So the Holocene’s slide towards an ice age was much slower than 400 kyr ago.

    Holocene temperature vs the obliquity index.
    Obliquity has fallen from a peak of 24.2º to 23.4º

    Ganopolski then launches into a story about recent CO2 increases saving us from falling into a new ice age. But he never mentions albedo. This is strange, since Ganopolski’s last paper demonstrated that albedo was a key element in glacial modulation.* Perhaps this was required for the grant application.

    In reality, the primary feedback for glacial modulation is not CO2, but the slow extension of the ice sheets and the associated increase in albedo. So if we have been saved from further glacial cooling in the last few millennia, it was due to the increase in agricultural and industrial soot deposits on the ice sheets, rather than a belated rise in CO2. And although the precessionary cycle is weak at present it has begun to rise again, and so an ice age is unlikely for the foreseeable future.

    For the many reasons how and why ice-albedo controls the ice age cycle, see Prof Best’s succinct summary:



    * Ganopolski (2010) “Simulation of the last glacial cycle with a coupled climate ice-sheet model of intermediate complexity.”

  26. Ned Nikolov says:


    There has been lots of confusion and misunderstanding about the driving forces of periodic Ice Ages. That’s because the answer likely lies completely outside the current paradigm of orbital/albedo/CO2 changes. 1) Known orbital variations (according to the model of Laskar et al. 2004, 2011) only produce small changes in insolation that are utterly insufficient to generate the large fluctuations of global surface temperature observed in the geological record. 2) Atmospheric CO2 changes always lag temperature variations by 600-1000 years. The proposed positive feedback between CO2 and global temperature is simply a model fiction, not a physical reality. 3) The temperature-albedo feedback (fist proposed by the Russian climatologist Budiko in the 1960s) is also a pure model artifact. Analysis of the albedo-temperature relationship across planetary bodies in the Solar System does not support the existence of such a feedback …

    So, we need to look in an entirely different direction to solve the Pleistocene dilemma.

    Here is a clue – what about periodic changes in total atmospheric mass and surface pressure? Would such changes produce variations in global temperature and the equator-to-pole temperature gradient? … 🙂

  27. ralfellis says:

    >>Known orbital variations only produce small changes in insolation that are
    >>utterly insufficient to generate the large fluctuations of global surface
    >>temperature observed in the geological record

    You did not read the paper, did you? When including the dust-albedo feedback system, there can be an increase of 180 w/m2 in insolation absorption.

    That is quite enough to produce an interglacial within 5 kyrs.


  28. oldmanK says:

    Ned Nikolov says:

    “So, we need to look in an entirely different direction to solve the Pleistocene dilemma.

    Here is a clue – what about periodic changes in total atmospheric mass and surface pressure? Would such changes produce variations in global temperature and the equator-to-pole temperature gradient? …”

    Raymo and Huybers in the link below also expressed the same opinion.


    How about Dodwell’s theory? You may find it here:


  29. ralfellis says:

    >>What about periodic changes in total atmospheric mass and surface pressure?

    And what would change the mass of the atmosphere, eh? Especially over the ten years of a D-O event.

    And I doubt if Huybers is saying any such thing. But that paper is paywalled, so I cannot read it.


  30. oldmanK says:

    ralfellis, you can get it here.

    Click to access Raymo_Nature2008.pdf

  31. oldmanK says:

    Take a look at page 2 fig 1 section b. This refers to obliquity, which does not move beyond the range 22-25 deg. That is an assumption, evidence points otherwise.

    look up also this:

    Click to access ruddimann_science2010.pdf

    Where he is say at one point

    “Paleoclimatologists were left with three
    possibilities. First, we might have over-
    looked something crucial. This option seems
    unlikely for a science that has been growing
    toward maturity for decades.”

    Now that’s being blind. The fact scientists haven’t found the answer in more than 100 years, in the face of those measurements of obliquity that date back to 1100 bce that tell the story, than ????

  32. ralfellis says:

    >>Take a look at page 2 fig 1 section b. This refers to obliquity.

    Huybers does not mention a thickening atmosphere at all, just as I thought.

    Huybers is simply sticking to his obliquity explanation, as he has done in all his papers. But as I show in my appendix, the obliquity cycle only shows its presence every 400 kyr, when precession reduces to a minimum. In between times, obliquity is irrelevant, and this is why Huybers’ theory is wrong.

    I spoke to Huybers about this, and presented my alternative paper. He could not fault my theory, and merely commented that the paper was too long and needed cutting down. He was correct there, so I took eight pages out of it. But no flaws were discovered in my arguments.

    And the reason for the change between obliquity cycles and precession cycles 800 kyr ago, is the different feedback response of ice sheets. When ice sheets started to become large, they required intense insolation and dust albedo feedbacks. And obliquity cannot deliver that summer intensity. So the only forcing that could melt the ice sheets, when they became large, was precession. See my appendix.

    Modulation of Ice Ages via dust and albedo.


  33. dscott says:

    The report is pure Fiddle faddle,

    Every Ice Age period for the last one million years, according to the geologic record starts when the obliquity of Earth drops below 23.5 degrees, NO EXCEPTIONS. Go ahead, line up the Ice Age start dates with the Obliquity cycle. We are on the down slope of the cycle and have dropped below 23.5. You don’t need a science degree to see the obvious.

    The quacks shilling for the AGW scam know this and they are laying the ground work for the excuse that they misjudged the amount of warming produced by CO2 to offset the obliquity cycle.

    The minutia of science babble NEVER EVER changes the RESULTS, it only momentarily distracts the gullible until it is too late.

  34. oldmanK says:

    @ ralfellis,

    Raymo, Huybers and Ruddiman (the point I referred to) all point to the fact that, as Nikolov said “There has been lots of confusion and misunderstanding about the driving forces of periodic Ice Ages”.

    In the second para of your paper you say: “The cyclical variation in northern hemisphere insolation caused by the combined effects of the precession of the equinox and the obliquity of the Earth’s axis, was calculated by Milutin Milankovitch back in the early 19th century, ”

    What Milankovitch did may be found in concise form here: http://geowords.com/histbookpdf/b33.pdf That obliquity varies between 22-25 deg was (if I’m not mistaken)something he assumed, based on the earlier work, not of Newcomb but earlier Stockwell, find here https://archive.org/details/memoirofsecularv00stocrich The earliest I could go to find the origin of that concept you may find in the introduction in Stockwell page xii second paragraph.

    It is a mathematical model for secular behaviour of “an imperfect sphere”, as he called it. That imperfect sphere happens to be also subject to changes that then induce transient changes to its dynamic steady state. What you and Nikolov mention in your papers may all be active variables (effect not cause in my view) but what triggers those variables into drastic changes is something else.

    Milankovitch (b33)>> “Milankovitch could show that the tilt of Earth’s axis is a key player in what may trigger a glacial. If Earth’s axis had no tilt, then the poles would always be in a winter (glacial) condition. This is easy to understand. Interestingly, if Earth’s axial tilt is 54 deg , then amounts of sunlight radiated to every place on Earth would, in the course of a year, add to the same. This latter result needs to be calculated as it is not immediately obvious. A tilt of 58 deg or more would allow continental glaciers to form at sea level at the equator when none would necessarily form at the poles.”

    Importantly the effect of earth tilt which “which could cause a glacial simultaneously in both hemispheres”. That as in the above is from a small or no tilt. Remember that what was discussed in the Dodwell thread is far from another hypothesis; it is hard evidence.

  35. tallbloke says:

    OldmanK: Nice resources, thanks. Still awaiting your book.

  36. oldmanK says:

    Tallbloke; its in the snail mail. Might take a while.

    There is a bright (depends how one looks at it, otherwise its frightening) side to that. The book content is closed, but i am still coming across (and collecting) additional material. I’ll fill you in where it’s left out in the book.

  37. ralfellis says:

    >>What Milankovitch did may be found in concise form here

    Yeah, but we are not using Milankovitch data, we are using Laskar 2004, which is as good as you are going to get. And there is no way the Earth can tilt to 54º, because the Moon will not allow it. Laskar data is good, as the mini-glaciations prior to 800 kyr ago demonstrate. The obliquity cycle was ~41 kyr then, the same as it is now. Please read my appendix.


    >> what triggers those variables into drastic changes, is something else.

    Indeed, which is the whole point of my paper. The trigger is dust-ice albedo.

    The world likes to drift back to glacial conditions, and perhaps to an ice-ball world. And the only thing that is going to stop that, is dust-ice albedo, which can add 180 W/m2 of additional forcing. And this is exactly what the ice core evidence says happens.


  38. tallbloke says:

    Ralf: The world likes to drift back to glacial conditions, and perhaps to an ice-ball world.

    So Scotese is wrong? According to him, the world drifts back to hothouse conditions over more of it’s history.

  39. ralfellis says:

    >>So Scotese is wrong? According to him, the world drifts
    >>back to hothouse conditions over more of it’s history.

    I have not looked at the climate millions of years ago, so cannot really comment about that. Perhaps CO2 does have a small effect. A project for later.

    However, for the past 800 kyr, the data clearly shows rapid temperature rises (caused by dust-ice albedo), followed by a gradual temperature decline. And each time we get a precessional maximum every ~23 kyr the temperature gets a positive kick, but then drifts back to glacial conditions.

    So it seems that albedo increase trumps insolation increase in normal conditions. Which is not surprising, since albedo can reject 95% of insolation. So no matter how hard insolation tries it is always deflected, more and more as the millennia pass.

    So nothing will stop the incremental increase in ice sheet extent, and a snowball Earth is the inevitable result. UNLESS, of course, the ice gets dirty. As soon as that happens, albedo beats a hasty retreat and the insolation can triumph. And the result is a warming of the ice sheets and the world.

    Image: Interglacials always slide into glacial conditions.

  40. oldmanK says:

    @ ralfellis: “And there is no way the Earth can tilt to 54º, because the Moon will not allow it. Laskar data is good, as the mini-glaciations prior to 800 kyr ago demonstrate. The obliquity cycle was ~41 kyr then, the same as it is now.”

    An extract from this http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v396/n6710/full/396453a0.html says “Palaeomagnetic data suggest that the Earth was glaciated at low latitudes during the Palaeoproterozoic” and “Williams11 has suggested that the Earth’s obliquity may have been greater than 54° during most of its history, which would have made the Equator the coldest part of the planet12. But this would require a mechanism to bring the obliquity down to its present value of 23.5°. Here we propose that obliquity–oblateness feedback13 could have reduced the Earth’s obliquity by tens of degrees “. Was the earth moonless at this time?

    Quote ” we are using Laskar 2004, which is as good as you are going to get. And there is no way the Earth can tilt to 54º, because the Moon will not allow it.” Again Laskar’s hypothesis is a recent mathematical model, but the problem is that it is not borne out by evidence, evidence coming from 5000 years ago when there was a moon. And evidence is a hard nut to crack with modelling. A model is only good as long as it fits the evidence.

    Beware of old dogma, lest we fall off the edge of the earth.

  41. ralfellis says:

    >>“Palaeomagnetic data suggest that the Earth was glaciated
    >>at low latitudes during the Palaeoproterozoic”

    Highly speculative. I am surprised they would print this in Nature.

    In reality, the Moon was much closer to the Earth in this era, and would have had an even greater stabilising force on obliquity and precession than now, not less. And the Earth was spinning faster, and as we know a faster spinning top is more stable.

    It is much easier to suggest that the snowball Earth happened because albedo is the most powerful component of climate, as I suggested in my post above. And so unless albedo is challenged by dust or dirt, it will indeed proceed to a snowball Earth.

    I find that a much easier and more satisfactory explanation.


  42. tallbloke says:

    Our investigations of planetary rotation rates have found simple numerical relationships between them. This means that the theory inherited from Newton that the planets got the spin they did when the solar system was created, and have been slowing down ever since may not be right. There could be a driver (Orbit-spin coupling). If so, then the moon may not have been much closer to Earth in the past. In any case, the theory that the moon split from the earth (either by fission or collision) has all sorts of problems. e.g. it would have started out well within the Roche limit and been pulled apart by Earth tides.

    The Moon and Earth-moon system exhibit a lot of simple orbitally resonant numerical relationships with other planetary bodies too, as we’ve been discovering in our ‘why phi?’ series on this website. It could be that the Moon is in a long term phase of slowly receding, but could start approaching again after that, in a cyclic pattern. Nobody knows for sure.

    the history of the Earth–Sun–
    Moon system is best understood only at its two temporal extremes: the
    beginnings of the system some 5 Ga ago (based on model studies of distant
    stars), and the last few thousand years for which there are historical records.
    The intervening several billions of years of history have left few records
    of important Earth–Sun–Moon relationships. These, for the most part,
    can be estimated only by using mathematical models.

    Click to access VANY8521.pdf

  43. oldbrew says:

    Venus and Mercury do a good impression of being in harmony with the lunar Metonic cycle – or multiples of 3 of them.

  44. tallbloke says:

    Kant (1754) proposed, as a mechanism for Earth retardation,
    lunar and solar induced tides in the ocean and solid Earth. This is believed
    today to be the dominant mechanism, but serious discrepancies between
    observation and theory continue to exist (Gerstenkorn, 1967; Rosenberg
    and Runcorn, 1975; Brosche and Siindermann, 1978, 1982). – Ibid

    (1982) limited obliquity of the ecliptic to between 12 and 24 ° while
    in an earlier paper MacDonald (1966) estimated a range from 10 to 30 °
    over the probable history of the Earth–Moon system. Obliquities as high as
    56 to 126 ° in the late Proterozoic have been suggested by Williams (1975)

    as a possible explanation for the enigma of low latitude glaciation occurring
    at that time.
    The suggestion by Williams is not based on dynamical considerations. – Ibid

    of the ecliptic computes to 26 ° 30′ compared to the present value of 23 ° 27′.
    This is consistent with Wittmann’s estimate of a currently decreasing value
    but contrary to the numerical extrapolations of both MacDonald and Mignard
    who compute a smaller obliquity in the past and contrary to the
    larger values suggested by Williams for slightly younger Proterozoic times.

  45. oldmanK says:

    tallbloke, the wittmann you quoted last is likely the same A Wittmann who wrote this paper in 1979:


    See last page first paragraph “As the theoretical rate seems——“. This also confirms Dodwell’s hypothesis of a changing obliquity, and the fact that the formulae for predicting obliquity are missing an important part, the transient events —that cannot be modelled secularly.

    It also in a way puts paid to laskar’s hypothesis of lunar stability.

    tallbloke we will discuss later when you review the man-made megalithic evidence on this aspect.

  46. oldmanK says:

    reset link


    [Mod note] WordPress can’t handle the full stops in adabs links. Use http://tinyurl.com to get an alternative like this


  47. oldmanK says:

    keyword; A Wittmann, ‘the obliquity of the ecliptic’

  48. Gail Combs says:

    “….Loutre and Berger estimated that the present inter-glacial might last for another 40,000 years based on orbital parameters….” and this is what NOAA/NASA and the Connolated WIKI use to tell us the Ice age has ended.

    One wee problem Loutre and Berger is based on MODELS and their models got shot down by evidence.

    Any hope that the Holocene would go long was shot down by Lisiecki and Raymo in 2005 in their rebuttal of Loutre and Berger, 2003. No more recent papers has rebutted Lisiecki and Raymo in the decade since then. Not that the MSM would bother telling us that.

    We present a 5.3-Myr stack (the ‘‘LR04’’ stack) of benthic d18O records from 57 globally distributed sites aligned by an automated graphic correlation algorithm. This is the first benthic d18O stack composed of more than three records to extend beyond 850 ka,…

    Recent research has focused on MIS 11 as a possible analog for the present interglacial [e.g., Loutre and Berger, 2003; EPICA Community Members, 2004] because both occur during times of low eccentricity. The LR04 age model establishes that MIS 11 spans two precession cycles, with d18O values below 3.6% for 20 kyr, from 398 – 418 ka. In comparison, stages 9 and 5 remained below 3.6% for 13 and 12 kyr, respectively, and the Holocene interglacial has lasted 11 kyr so far. In the LR04 age model, the average LSR of 29 sites is the same from 398– 418 ka as from 250–650 ka; consequently, stage 11 is unlikely to be artificially stretched. However, the 21 June insolation minimum at 65°N during MIS 11 is only 489 W/m2, much less pronounced than the present minimum of 474 W/m2. In addition, current insolation values are not predicted to return to the high values of late MIS 11 for another 65 kyr. We propose that this effectively precludes a ‘‘double precession cycle’’ interglacial [e.g., Raymo, 1997] in the Holocene without human influence.

  49. Gail Combs says:

    “…But there were two interglacial periods in the last million years (one 400,000 years ago and one 800,000 years ago) with a similar combination of orbital cycles. Both crossed the threshold into an ice age when they hit this low point in sunlight….”

    Actually that is not true. One interglacial , MIS-11, since the Mid-Pleistocene Transition has lasted longer than about half a precession cycle and it is considered a possible analog for the Holocene.

    The Holocene interglacial is now 11,700 years old. That’s two centuries or so beyond half the present precession cycle (or 23,000/2=11,500). (Thank you Grand Solar Maximum)

    “without anthropogenic influence both MIS-19 and MIS-11 suffered 3 thermal excursions right at their very ends. The youngest of each was the stronger, right before each dropped into the next ice age… Whereas MIS-19 may not satisfy everyone as an interglacial belonging to the present eccentricity-paced major climate cycles, it also occurred at a 400kyr eccentricity minimum cycle, just like MIS-11 (the Holsteinian) did and MIS-1 (the Holocene) is doing now.” — William McClenney, geologist. (Thermal excursions = warm periods)

    William has been closely following the literature in Quaternary Science on interglacial-glacial transitions. He was nice enough to ship me over three hundred papers on the subject.

    So the actual debate over climate is whether or not the Holocene will match MIS 11 or MIS 19.

    Again from William McClenney with much reference to the Quaternary Science literature.

    “the precessional alignment would suggest that the Holocene is nearing its end, while the obliquity alignment would suggest it has another 12,000 years to run its course.” (Tzedakis, 2010)

    “In essence, this alignment represents a synchronization of the obliquity signal instead of precession, which according to Masson-Delmotte et al. (2006) may be more appropriate, because of the role of obliquity changes in triggering deglaciation especially during intervals of weak precessional variations, as is the case for MIS 11 and 1.” (Tzedakis, 2010)…

    The earth is either going to have another “extended interglacial”, like MIS-11 did, or it won’t, like MIS-19 didn’t, given that like them we are once again at a 400kyr eccentricity minimum.

    There is a particularly prickly issue that either case is stuck with though.

    If the Holocene “goes-long” like MIS-11 did, what could we possibly do to get us through the several thousand years of cold between the first and second MIS-11 insolation peaks… Even if the Holocene duplicates MIS 11 it ain’t going to be warm.

    “The lesson from the last interglacial “greenhouse” in the Bahamas is that the closing of that interval brought sea-level changes that were rapid and extreme. This has prompted the remark that between the greenhouse and the icehouse lies a climatic “madhouse”!

    I do not think anyone really knows how many bouts of climatic “madhouse” the end Holocene is supposed to experience but I can guarantee it will make the Alarmists have fainting fits…. as they starve to death.

  50. Gail Combs says:

    To give you a feel for just how close to glaciation we are you can look at the calculations from a fall 2012 paper Can we predict the duration of an interglacial? The paper gives the calculated solar insolation values in June @ 65°N of several glacial inceptions:
    Current value – insolation = 479W m−2 (from that paper) MIS 7e – insolation = 463 W m−2,
    MIS 11c – insolation = 466 W m−2,
    MIS 13a – insolation = 500 W m−2,
    MIS 15a – insolation = 480 W m−2,
    MIS 17 – insolation = 477 W m−2

    So the earth right now is in the ball park for glacial inception.

    It is also useful to look at what the solar insolation values were for the depths of the Wisconsin Ice Age, the peak of the Holocene and the transition out of the last ice age.

    NOAA lists the Berger calculations for June solar insolation values @ 60°N (not 65°N)

    Holocene peak insolation: 523 Wm-2
    …………………..decreased = 47 Wm-2
    to NOW (modern Warm Period) 476 Wm-2
    ………………….. decrease another = 12 Wm-2
    to get to the Depth of the last ice age – around 464 Wm−2

    Look at the amount of solar insolation it took to get out of the Wisconsin Ice Age and do not forget the Younger Dryas Cold Event aka The Big Freeze (ca. 12.9–11.6 ka) that flipped the earth back into the Ice Box despite the high insolation values.
    11,000 years ago…………… 523.16 Wm-2 peak insolation
    Wisconsin Ice age- Holocene transition
    12,000 years ago…………… 522.50 Wm-2

    In other words the earth barely made it out of the Ice Box at peak insolation and the earth has dropped an additional 47 Wm-2 since that peak and is now ONLY 12 Wm-2 above the bottom value for the Wisconsin Ice Age

    And Politicians want to REDUCE the CO2 ****that might just keep us out of the Ice Box? Are they crazy or do they have a death wish!?

  51. Gail Combs says:

    One last comment on glaciation.

    During glaciation the entire north is not covered in ice. Instead there is an ice sheet mainly over the eastern half of North America and the western half of Eurasia and it sure looks like Wilde’s Loopy Jets.

    Scottish snow patches

    North American Glaciation starts in Hudson Bay

    Hudson Bay was the growth centre for the main ice sheet that covered northern North America during the last Ice Age. The whole region has very low year-round average temperatures. (The average annual temperature for Churchill at 59°N is -5 °C; by comparison Arkhangelsk at 64°N in a similar cold continental position in northern Russia has an average of 2 °C.[16]) Water temperature peaks at 8°-9 °C (46°-48 °F) on the western side of the bay in late summer. It is largely frozen over from mid-December to mid-June

    August 13, 2015: 2nd highest ice coverage for Hudson Bay since 1971 at mid-August – only 1992 higher

    The sea ice on 25 July 2015. (Note the location of the Great Lakes and think of the record ice the last couple of winters and the 6F below normal summer water temperature.)

    Hudson Bay Ice

    Sea Ice mid July 2015

    Sea Ice mid July 2014

    Sea Ice mid July 2013

    Sea Ice mid July 2012

    Sea Ice mid July 2011

    Sea Ice mid August 2015

    Sea Ice mid August 2014

    And finally Albedo.

    In the Southern Hemisphere the Antarctic Sea Ice has been at record highs. That plus open water in the Arctic equals major heat loss. See:



  52. ralfellis says:

    Interesting figures Gail. I shall read the paper tonight.

    One ray of hope on the horozon – the current insolation is now back on the way up, so if we have not hit an ice age now, we are unlikely to for another 20 kyr. The slide into a ice age is slow, and there is nothing stopping a recovery.

    Plus, if we realise that the main feedback is ice albedo, rather than CO2, then we can hold off the ice age almost indefinitely. We have the aircraft. We have the technology. We can maintain the Holocene.


  53. tallbloke says:

    I saw the ‘two waves paper’ a few weeks ago. It might tie up with our ideas, but I haven’t had time to study it. I might do a post if it looks promising.
    Your book arrived – many thanks.

  54. edmh says:

    According to Greenland and other Ice Core data our Holocene Interglacial is in long-term decline.

    When considering the scale of temperature changes that alarmists anticipate because of Man-made Global Warming and their view of the disastrous effects of additional Man-made Carbon Dioxide emissions, it is instructive to look at climate change not from the point of view of annual or decadal changes (in the weather) but from a longer term, centennial or millennial perspective.

    The current, warm Holocene interglacial has been the enabler of mankind’s civilisation for the last 10,000+ years. It’s congenial climate spans from mankind’s earliest farming to the scientific and technological advances of the last 100 years.

    • the last millennium 1000AD – 2000AD encompassing the Medieval warm Period has been the coldest millennium of the current Holocene interglacial.

    • each of the notable high points in the Holocene temperature record, (the early Holocene Climate Optimum – Minoan – Roman – Medieval – Modern), have been progressively colder than the previous high point.

    • for its first 7-8000 years the early Holocene, including its high point “Climate Optimum”, had virtually flat temperatures, an average drop of only ~0.007 °C per millennium.

    • but the more recent Holocene, since a “tipping point” at ~1000BC, has seen a temperature diminution at more than 20 times that earlier rate at about 0.14 °C per millennium.

    • the Holocene interglacial is already 10,000 – 11,000 years old and judging from the length of previous interglacials the Holocene epoch should be drawing to its close: in this century, the next century or this millennium.

    • the beneficial warming at the end of the 20th century to the Modern high point has been falsely transmuted into being “the Great Man-made Global Warming Scare”.

    • eventually this late 20th century modern temperature blip will come to be seen as just noise in the system in the longer term progress of comparatively rapid cooling over the last 3000+ years.

    The much vaunted and much feared “fatal” tipping point of +2°C would only bring Global temperatures close to the level of the very congenial climate of “the Roman warm period”.

    Were possible to reach the “horrendous” level of +4°C postulated by Warmists, that extreme level of warming would still only bring temperatures to about the level of the previous Eemian maximum, a warm and abundant epoch, when hippopotami thrived in the Rhine delta.

    Global warming protagonists should accept that our interglacial has been in long-term decline for the last 3000 years and that any action taken by man-kind will make no difference whatsoever. It’s implausible that any action by Man-kind could reverse these inexorable events in the short period of the coming century.

    Were the actions by Man-kind able to avert warming they would eventually reinforce the catastrophic cooling that is bound to return relatively soon in geological time scales.



  55. oldmanK says:

    tallbloke, good to hear. Mine haven’t yet, and were ordered 9 days before. Any day now.

    Would appreciate critical feedback, also any questions.

  56. oldmanK says:

    edmh’s post above has a number of points that are in agreement with a plot of mine from another thread, see link below.


    What edmh does not show is the historical in the data is the connection to cataclysmic events as found from other evidence. Those recurring events stopped when the downward cooling trend after 2200bce began. Why ????

    Freak weather and droughts are one thing. The 4 events of ~6200, 4375, 3195 and 2345bce are a very different animal.