Changes in Earth's Orbit
Changes in the Earth's orbit--the path along which it moves through space--affect its closeness to the sun, and thus the amount of solar energy reaching the Earth's atmosphere and surface. Changes in the Earth's orbit could include changes in

  • eccentricity or shape of the Earth's orbit around the sun, which can be elliptical to nearly circular
  • precession or wobbling of the Earth's axis
  • the tilt of the Earth's axis.

Image of earth rotating about its axis as it orbits the sun.

Image: Earth rotating about its axis as it orbits the sun.

The Milankovitch Theory states that changes in eccentricity, precession, and the tilt of the earth's axis may be responsible for global climate change over geologic time.

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Last updated April 28, 2005

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