Gerald Marsh, A Theory of Ice Ages

Posted: June 30, 2018 by oldbrew in Clouds, cosmic rays, Cycles, Ice ages, opinion, solar system dynamics
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An interesting contribution to the ice age debate here. Problems with Milankovitch and CO2-related theories are discussed.

Thongchai Thailand

Gerald Marsh, retired Argonne National Laboratories Physicist, challenges the usual assumption that ice age cycles are initiated by Milankovich Cycles and driven by the Arrhenius effect of carbon dioxide. He says that the key variable here is “low altitude cloud cover” driven by cosmic rays. A paper worth reading.


  1. The existing understanding of interglacial periods is that they
    are initiated by Milankovitch cycles enhanced by rising atmospheric
    carbon dioxide concentrations. During interglacials, global temperature is
    also believed to be primarily controlled by carbon dioxide concentrations,
    modulated by internal processes such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation
    and the North Atlantic Oscillation. Recent work challenges the
    fundamental basis of these conceptions.
    The history of the role of carbon dioxide in climate begins with the work of Tyndall 1861 and later in 1896 by Arrhenius. The concept that carbon dioxide controlled climate fell into disfavor for a variety of reasons until…

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  1. p.g.sharrow says:

    @oldbrew; Interesting paper, Changes in albedo would certainly made a difference in surface heating, specially in the polar regions. Anyone that has operated a cloud chamber cab attest to creation of cloud droplets by radiation. We are back to water vapor as the critical ingredient that creates our weather/climate system. pressure density in the atmosphere. I think looking for a single cause is too simplistic. More likely a number of periodic cycles must align to create the combination needed for the warming pulse. This would account for the somewhat erratic nature of the cycle

  2. Pablo says:

    I prefer the Ralph Ellis theory of :

    “Modulation of Ice Ages via Precession and Dust-Albedo Feedbacks”

    Click to access ice_ages_v12b_Ellis.pdf

  3. JB says:

    I read several of Ralph’s books and then began checking out some of his ideas/interpretations. The conclusion I came to was that he is a Sitchin type “researcher” that is not very well informed and makes his living sensationalizing his ideas in pulp.

    I never did accept the Milankovich Cycles, for some of the reasons referred to in the paper. I also object to the use of the term “ice age” rather than glacial age. When flora and megafauna are being excavated across Canada (sp Mary’s Lake & Edmonton) dating to before the melting of the “ice cap”, its a bit hard to envision temperate/tropical animals roaming the grasslands with a mile’s thick ice sheet over it. If the aboriginal American stories have any validity, especially in the tribes of the Northwest, there is some radical adjustment to be made to theories surrounding the Holocene.

  4. J Martin says:

    I like the idea that the 41k world modulates cosmic rays. As to how that could be is anybody’s guess at present. Beyond my imagining. But it is beyond dispute that glaciations tie up both with the obliquity cycle and cosmic rays, the work that Kirkby did was persuasive I found.

    I am also a fan of the idea that the solar system precesses about another body. Perhaps the answer as to how obliquity might influence galactic rays is to be found in those orbital conditions.

  5. oldmanK says:

    J Martin part quote: ” –it is beyond dispute that glaciations tie up both with the obliquity cycle and cosmic rays”. It is not as simple as that (though academia does not venture into it). Cycles based on obliquity, precession and eccentricity may leave a signature in the proxies. But other factors may be more important. Obliquity varies cyclically over long periods of time and that leaves its signature. But, as first perceived by JF Dodwell, obliquity changes its mean value abruptly, so it is not known what it was in the past. The obliquity graphs are an extrapolation. However what evidence there is points to frequent ‘mean value’ shifts.

    Take the above into consideration and one can understand why the Milankovitch cycles do not seem to be strongly evident all the time. For example, Dodwell perceived that obliquity changed abruptly around 2345bce. That particular date has shown up repeatedly in proxies, but without a hint of what it meant. But in this one case it left its mark in an ancient structure which shows a change from ~14.5deg to near 24.

    CNN presently has a nice spot. A pile of bananas, possibly with an apple under it. If one wants to find out if that is so, ‘start digging’. But there are ‘apple carts’ in the way.

  6. ren says:

    Currently, solar activity is at the level of 2008. The density of the solar wind is very low. There are jumps in the speed of the solar wind to about 600 km/s caused by coronal holes.

  7. ren says:

    The decrease in UV radiation and the increase of GCR causes the increase of ozone and radioactive C14 in the lower stratosphere and upper troposphere. Ozone and 14CO2 molecules have high molecular weight and higher energy than O2 and N2. Therefore, in the tropopause mixed with vater wapor. In such a situation convection increases and thunderstorms intensify. These storms can also occur at night. The escape of water vapor into the stratosphere will cause a local strong drop in temperature on the surface.

  8. ren says:

    The relative humidity at the Concordia station is quite high and yet the temperature is very low.

  9. p.g.sharrow says:

    ren says:
    July 2, 2018 at 9:40 am
    Thank you ren! for the above paragraph. That IS a big deal! I was searching for the vehicle that moves water vapor into the stratosphere to create this very high, Ice crystal, haze that reduces solar radiation to the surface…pg

  10. Salvatore Del Prete says:

    I see what your saying Ren. I think we need to see some cooling I explain below.

    I am surprised nobody called this article out when it said during a interglacial period of time CO2 concentrations drive the temperature. That is false according to all the ice core data.

    As I type it is still warm. Both overall oceanic temperatures (down some but not enough) and global temperatures still high and all the indicators absent CO2 (if you believe in that) are pointing to colder. It needs to occur. If it doesn’t and worse yet if temperatures keep rising from here moving forward AGW is going to be stronger then ever and will have a good case to make in my opinion.

    So I think the key is what the climate does from now-next few years . We need a drop off of some sort given how the natural climatic factors are all pointing to colder conditions.

    I do not by it takes several decades to take hold. I can see a lag of say 10 even 15 years, but not much beyond that to at least get a cooling trend started.

    Since 2005 the sun has been in an inactive state that is 13 years now and in addition currently solar parameters are extremely low so I think if solar is player(which I think it is) the climate/oceans need to start to show some kind of a turn. They can’t keep increasing if one want to discredit AGW theory and push solar.

  11. Salvatore Del Prete says:

    Another thing that I can not stand are predictions are always made for some distant time in the future which is a word is MEANINGLESS!.

  12. Richard111 says:

    Interesting that when the BBC shows a satellite weather chart of the Northern Hemisphere cloud cover seems to be way above the 30% level used by climate computers.

  13. oldbrew says:

    Maybe a few ‘step-downs’ rather than a ‘drop-off’? ENSO will have its influence along the way.

  14. ren says:

    Over Australia -0.55 degrees in June is a serious warning against winter in the northern hemisphere, especially in North America.

  15. Salvatore Del Prete says:

    ok +.21c more of the same . Watching those overall sea surface temperatures.

  16. gallopingcamel says:

    If there was anything to this, the author should be able to tell us when the next glaciation will start.