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The English version of our glossary is currently under construction and will be regularly updated.

Milanković cycles

Model used to explain the occurrence of glacial and interglacial periods by means of quasi-periodic variations in Earth’s orbit, which result in changed exposure to solar radiation.

Properties of Earth’s orbit that are subject to minor variations. Named after the Serbian mathematician Milanković. These long-period changes in Earth’s orbit affect the amount of incoming solar radiation and its distribution across the planet. In detail, they concern the eccentricity of Earth’s orbit (deviation from circularity; period: ca. 110,000 years), its obliquity (rotational tilt; period: ca. 40,000 years) and its precession (change in the orientation of Earth’s axis / change in its orientation as Earth orbits the sun); period: ca. 23,000 years). The cycles are chiefly responsible for the switch from glacial to interglacial periods within ice ages.