Articles | Volume 9, issue 4
Review article
21 Aug 2013
Review article |  | 21 Aug 2013

On the Milankovitch sensitivity of the Quaternary deep-sea record

W. H. Berger

Abstract. The response of the climate system to external forcing (that is, global warming) has become an item of prime interest, especially with respect to the rate of melting of land-based ice masses. The deep-sea record of ice-age climate change has been useful in assessing the sensitivity of the climate system to a different type of forcing; that is, to orbital forcing, which is well known for the last several million years. The expectation is that the response to one type of forcing will yield information about the likely response to other types of forcing. When comparing response and orbital forcing, one finds that sensitivity to this type of forcing varies greatly through time, evidently in dependence on the state of the system and the associated readiness of the system for change. The changing stability of ice masses is here presumed to be the chief underlying cause for the changing state of the system. A buildup of vulnerable ice masses within the latest Tertiary, when going into the ice ages, is thus here conjectured to cause a stepwise increase of climate variability since the early Pliocene.