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Milankovitch Variations

Robert A. Rohde, Wikipedia

This figure shows the various astronomic cycles that influence long-term global climate cycles (Milankovitch cycles), plotted on the same time scale for easy comparison.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Static Visualization supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
High School: 2 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 2 Cross Cutting Concepts, 1 Science and Engineering Practice

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Students can calculate frequency of each cycle from the figure using a ruler and working out the 'scale.'
  • Different student groups could each plot the original datasets and discuss; this figure could be later provided as an easy takeaway summary of their efforts.

About the Science

  • Figure that shows the variations in Earth's orbit (precession, obliquity, and eccentricity), the resulting changes in solar energy flux at high latitude (solar forcing at 65 degrees N), and the observed glacial cycles. Also includes a graph of the last 5 glacial terminations.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Covers appropriate material, but has some confusing wording. Generally speaking, the scientific information is correct, but it is not very in-depth and doesn't tell the whole story.

About the Pedagogy

  • Good background information for students and teachers.
  • The "backwards" timescale, while potentially confusing, is the convention in paleoclimatology.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Easy to download and use.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Static Visualization supports:

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 2

HS-ESS1.B1:Kepler’s laws describe common features of the motions of orbiting objects, including their elliptical paths around the sun. Orbits may change due to the gravitational effects from, or collisions with, other objects in the solar system.

HS-ESS1.B2:Cyclical changes in the shape of Earth’s orbit around the sun, together with changes in the tilt of the planet’s axis of rotation, both occurring over hundreds of thousands of years, have altered the intensity and distribution of sunlight falling on the earth. These phenomena cause a cycle of ice ages and other gradual climate changes.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 2

Patterns, Cause and effect

HS-C1.5:Empirical evidence is needed to identify patterns.

HS-C2.1:Empirical evidence is required to differentiate between cause and correlation and make claims about specific causes and effects.

Science and Engineering Practices: 1

Analyzing and Interpreting Data

HS-P4.1:Analyze data using tools, technologies, and/or models (e.g., computational, mathematical) in order to make valid and reliable scientific claims or determine an optimal design solution.

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