Rendiconti Online della Società Geologica Italiana - Vol. 53/2021

A century since the recognition of cyclic climatic change by Milanković

Marco Romano (1), Bruce Rubidge (2) & Raffaele Sardella (1)
(1) Dipartimento Scienze della Terra, Sapienza Università di Roma, Rome, Italy. (2) Evolutionary Studies Institute (ESI) and School of Geosciences, Univesity of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. Corresponding author e-mail:

Volume: 53/2021
Pages: 9-13


One hundred years ago the Serbian engineer, mathematician and geophysicist Milutin Milanković published the seminal work "Mathematical Theory of Thermal Phenomena Caused by Solar Radiation", which laid the foundation for mathematical modelling of climatic cycles. Milanković succeeded in linking major climate change to three known astronomical parameters which controlled the amount of solar radiation on Earth during different seasons and at different latitudes, these are: Earth's orbit eccentricity around the Sun; the tilt or obliquity of Earth's axis of rotation; and the precession of the rotation axis or 'wobblelike' movement. The proposal of periodic fluctuations in Earth's climate (now known as Milanković cycles) was rejected and ridiculed during the 1950s, but received acclaim in the seventies following publication of the outcomes of seminal multidisciplinary research by Hays, Imbrie and Shackleton.


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