By Kimberly Turtenwald
The Earth moves around the sun in an elliptical pattern. Global warming has impacted weather in all areas of the planet. Some reasons for these climate changes are associated with human activity but changes in the Earth’s orbit and cycle have also contributed.The way the Earth moves around the sun, as well as how it spins on its axis can affect the weather throughout the world.
At one time, the Earth’s orbit around the sun was in a circular shape, which meant that the planet was the same distance from the sun at all times. However, over the years, the Earth has developed a more elliptical shape to its orbit, which causes the planet to travel closer to the sun at some times and farther away at others. When the Earth is situated closer to the sun, the effects of global warming are more noticeable than when when the planet is farther away. The orbit of the Earth fluctuates between circular and elliptical every 21,000 years. The shape of the ellipse varies over the course of 100,000 years.
As the Earth travels around the sun, it does not hold steady in its orbit. Instead, the Earth wobbles a bit on its axis as it makes its annual trip around the sun. The wobble of the planet is caused by the effects of varying gravity from the sun and the other planets in orbit around the sun. This wobble creates variations in the typical weather patterns that exhibit on the surface of the planet. The Earth’s wobble cycles about every 23,000 years.
Tilt of the Earth
The tilt of the Earth on its axis has a role in the effects of global warming. The Earth’s tilt means some areas of the planet are closer to the sun than others. This creates the different seasons. The hemisphere that is closer to the sun experiences winter, while the one farther away experiences winter. The current 23.3 degree tilt varies in a long cycle (41,000 years) between 22 and 24.5 degrees. When the tilt is greater, the poles of the Earth experience less warming than when the tilt is at a lesser degree.
In addition to the changes in the Earth’s orbit that contribute to global warming, the sun may also play a role in the cycle. The sun goes through cycles where its output increases, causing the Earth’s atmosphere to warm up and create warmer than average weather. Scientists have discovered several possible cycle lengths for sun output activity ranging from every 11 years up to every 720 years. During the course of these cycles, the sun releases more energy, resulting in climate changes and an increased number of solar flares.