MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Milankovitch cycles are the collective effect of changes in the Earth's movements upon its climate, named after Serbian civil engineer and mathematician Milutin Milankovic. The axial tilt and precession of the Earth's orbit, and the orbital eccentricity, vary in several patterns, resulting in 100, 000-year ice age cycles of the Quaternary glaciation over the last few million years. The Earth's axis completes one full cycle of precession approximately every 26, 000 years (top diagrams). At the same time, the orbit's eccentricity varies with a period of about 400, 000 years (bottom right). In addition, the angular title of Earth's rotational axis varies from 22.1 degrees to 24.5 degrees and back again on a 41, 000-year cycle. Currently, this angle is 23.44 degrees and is decreasing.
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