A model/simulator to learn about changes in Earth’s climate caused by variations in the solar energy received by the planet over geological time scales and to understand the role of the orbital parameters (obliquity, precession, and eccentricity) in causing ice age cycles (Milankovitch cycles) on Earth.
Students can vary orbital parameters (eccentricity, obliquity, longitude of the perihelion) of Earth to observe the corresponding effect on the incoming solar radiation (insolation). They can also compare the global and seasonal distribution of insolation at two different points in time, and observe orbital data for particular times in the past and future (based on the paper by Laskar et al.).
As a teacher of Mathematics/ Statistics, you can use this resource to teach your students how to write code for different simulations of Earth’s long term climate fluctuations due to changes in orbital parameters. Detailed instructions are provided by the author of the model. This code is in the “shiny” package of R.
This resource consists of ten components:
- A script that reads the orbital data from a file
- A function that calculates daily mean insolation at 65N from the given orbital parameters
- A script that generates plots graphs
- A function that computes daily mean top-of-atmosphere insolation by latitude & season from Earth’s orbital parameters (eccentricity, obliquity, and longitude of perihelion)
- A script that plots the distribution of insolation by latitude & season
- A script that compares the distribution of insolation at two different times chosen by the user
- A script that lets the user explore the sensitivity of the distribution of insolation to the Earth’s orbital parameters
- A function that write a text file of orbital data and lets the user download it through the web browser
- The user interface that controls the sliders and passes inputs to the model
- The “server” that responds to user interface events in the web browser
Use this tool to help your students find answers to:
- What are Milankovitch Cycles?
- How do changes in Earth’s obliquity, precession, and eccentricity of orbit affect its climate?
About the Tool
|Tool Name||Milankovitch Orbital Data Viewer|
|Discipline||Earth Sciences; Physics; Mathematics and Statistics; Computer Science|
|Topic(s) in Discipline||Milankovitch Cycles; Earth’s Orbital Parameters; Eccentricity; Obliquity; Precession; Glacial Interglacial Cycles; Ice Ages|
|Climate Topic||Earth’s Orbital Parameters; Climate Variability Record|
|Type of Tool||Model/Simulator|
|Grade Level||High School; Undergraduate|
|Developed by||Scott Denning (Colorado State University)|
|Hosted at||Denning Research Group Toy Models|