Model/Simulator: Milankovitch Orbital Parameters

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.).

Use this tool to help your students find answers to:

  1. What are Milankovitch Cycles?
  2. 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
Topic(s) in Discipline Milankovitch Cycles; Earth’s Orbital Paramaters; Eccenetricity; 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
Location Global
Language English
Developed by Scott Denning (Colorado State University)
Hosted at Denning Research Group Toy Models
Access Online
Computer Skills Intermediate
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