14 Oct 2021

14 Oct 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal CP.

Orbital Insolation Variations, Intrinsic Climate Variability, and Quaternary Glaciations

Keno Riechers1,2, Takahito Mitsui1,2, Niklas Boers2,3,4, and Michael Ghil5,6 Keno Riechers et al.
  • 1Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany
  • 2Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potsdam, Germany
  • 3Earth System Modelling, School of Engeneering & Design, Technical University of Munich, Munich, Germany
  • 4Department of Mathematics and Global Systems Institute, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK
  • 5Geosciences Department and Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique (CNRS and IPSL), Ecole Normale Supérieure and PSL University, Paris, France
  • 6Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, United States

Abstract. The relative role of external forcing and of intrinsic variability is a key question of climate variability in general and of our planet’s paleoclimatic past in particular. Over the last 100 years since Milankovitch’s contributions, the role of orbital forcing has been well established for the last 2.6 Myr and their Quaternary glaciation cycles. A convincing case has also been made for the role of several internal mechanisms that are active on time scales both shorter and longer than the orbital ones. Such mechanisms clearly have a causal role in Dansgaard-Oeschger and Heinrich events, as well as in the mid-Pleistocene transition. We introduce herein a unified framework for the understanding of the interplay between internal mechanisms and orbital forcing on time scales from thousands to millions of years. This framework relies on the fairly recent theory of nonautonomous and random dynamical systems and it has been successfully applied so far in the climate sciences for problems like the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, the oceans’ wind-driven circulation, and other problems on interannual to interdecadal time scales. Finally, we provide further examples of climate applications and present preliminary results of interest for the Quaternary glaciation cycles in general and the mid-Pleistocene transition in particular.

Keno Riechers et al.

Status: open (until 12 Dec 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • CC1: 'Comment on cp-2021-136', Dr. Istvan Daruka, 25 Nov 2021 reply
    • EC1: 'Reply on CC1', Marie-France Loutre, 26 Nov 2021 reply
      • CC2: 'Reply on EC1', Dr. Istvan Daruka, 26 Nov 2021 reply
    • AC1: 'Reply on CC1', Keno Riechers, 26 Nov 2021 reply
      • CC5: 'Reply on AC1', Dr. Istvan Daruka, 27 Nov 2021 reply
      • CC6: 'Reply on AC1', Dr. Istvan Daruka, 27 Nov 2021 reply
  • CC3: 'Comment on cp-2021-136', Dr. Istvan Daruka, 26 Nov 2021 reply
  • CC4: 'Comment on cp-2021-136', Dr. Istvan Daruka, 26 Nov 2021 reply

Keno Riechers et al.

Video supplement

Filling Heatmap Keno Riechers, Takahito Mitsui, Niklas Boers, Michael Ghil

Keno Riechers et al.


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Short summary
Building upon Milancovic’s theory of orbital forcing, this manuscript reviews the interplay between intrinsic variability and external forcing in the emergence of glacial-interglacial cycles. It provides the reader with historical background information and with basic theoretical concepts used in recent paleoclimate research. Moreover, it presents new results which confirm the reduced stability of glacial-cycle dynamics after the Mid-Pleistocene Transition.