, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 576-601

On glaciations and their causes

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Abstract

The Pleistocene, and possibly also other, older glaciations, are believed to have resulted from a combination of terrestrial and astronomical factors. Preceding glaciation, orogenesis and uplift increased the Earth's albedo and decreased temperature. Lowering of temperature below a certain threshold value permitted the astronomical cause to become operative. While smaller glaciations may have been largely or entirely patterned by the astronomical cause or causes, terrestrial factors had an important effect in determining the course of the larger glaciations. Two time-delay factors are believed to have been responsible for the oscillatory pattern of glaciation: these are plastic iceflow, and crustal warping.

Summer insolation variation in the high latitudes is believed to be a more likely astronomical cause than variation of solar radiation.