Who knew? The orbits of planets, hundreds of millions of miles away, can change the weather on Earth.
Every 405,000 years, gravitational tugs from the planets Jupiter and Venus gradually influence the Earth's climate and life forms, according to a new study published on Monday .
In fact, this pattern has been going on for at least 215 million years, allowing scientists to date geological events such as the spread of dinosaurs.
"Scientists can now predict changes in climate, in the environment, in dinosaurs, mammals and fossils around the world to this 405,000-year cycle in a very accurate manner," said study lead author Dennis Kent, an expert in paleomagnetism Columbia University Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Rutgers University.
The cycle has been going on for hundreds of millions of years, before the rise of dinosaurs, and is still active today, scientists say.
"Climate cycles are directly related to how the Earth orbits the Sun, and slight variations in sunlight on Earth result in climatic and environmental changes," said Kent, examining Earth's magnetic field.
Jupiter and Venus are so powerful because of their size and proximity. Venus is the next planet for us – farthest, only about 162 million miles – and roughly similar in mass. Jupiter is much further away, but it is the largest planet in the solar system.
The study states that every 405,000 years, due to the orbital motion in our orbit caused by the gravitational motion of the two planets, the seasonal differences on Earth become more intense. The summers are hotter and the winters colder; dry sometimes dry, wet and wet.
At the height of the cycle, more rain falls in the tropics, allowing lakes to fill up. This is similar to the other end of the cycle when seasonal rainfall in the tropics is "less and lakes have much less of a tendency to get so full," said Kent.
The results showed that the 405,000-year cycle is the most regular astronomical pattern associated with the annual rotation of the Earth around the Sun, he said.
Right now, we are in the middle of the cycle when the last peak was around 200,000 years ago.
The Climate Impact of Planets fading compared to how people influence the planet, for example, by burning fossil fuels. "It's way down the list of so many other things that can affect the climate in our time scales," said Kent.
"All the carbon dioxide that we're pouring into the air is obviously big Enchilada: This has an effect that we can now measure The planetary cycle is a bit more subtle."
The study appeared in the Proceedings the National Academy of Sciences a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
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