New research identifies how Earth’s tilt effects climate. For the first time, researchers show a connection between Earth’s tilt called ‘obliquity’, which shifts every 40,000 years, and the movement of a low pressure band of clouds named Intertropical Convergence Zone, or ITCZ.
Team member Kristine DeLong, associate professor in the LSU Department Geography & Anthropology analyzed data from the past 282,000 years. “I took the data and put it through a mathematical prism so I could look at the patterns and that’s where we see the obliquity cycle, that 41,000-year cycle. From that, we can go in and look at how it compares to other records.” says DeLong.
The standard assumptions about how the variations in the Earth’s orbit influences changes in climate are called Milankovitch cycles. According to these principles, the Earth’s tilt influenced ice sheet formation during the Ice Ages, the slow wobble that occurs on a 23,000-year cycle as the Earth rotates around the Sun called precession affects the Tropics and the shape of the Earth’s orbit that occurs on a 100,000-year cycle controls how much energy the Earth receives.
This finding shows that the tilt of the Earth plays a much larger part in ITCZ migration than previously thought, which will enable climate scientists to better predict extreme weather events.
Historically, the collapse of the Mayan civilization and several Chinese dynasties have been linked to persistent droughts associated with the ITCZ. This new information is critical to understanding global climate and sustainable human socioeconomic development, the researchers said.
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