from the shape-of-things dept.
sciencehabit writes "Earth's orbital variations—the wobbling and nodding of the planet on its rotational axis and the rhythmic elongation of the shape of its orbit—can affect the shape of the sea floor, according to new research. Scientists already knew that orbital variations, which are driven by gravitational interactions among solar system bodies, pace the comings and goings of the ice ages by shifting where sunlight falls on Earth. Now, researchers have shown in a computer model that those pressure variations should vary the amount of mantle rock that melts kilometers beneath midocean ridges. That, in turn, would vary the amount of ocean crust that solidifies from the melted rock, changing the thickness of new crust by as much as a kilometer as it slides down either side of a midocean ridge. And the group found that indeed, on the Juan de Fuca Ridge offshore of the Pacific Northwest, the ocean floor is grooved like a vinyl LP record in time with Earth's orbital variations of the past million years."
The rule on staying alive as a forecaster is to give 'em a number or
give 'em a date, but never give 'em both at once.
-- Jane Bryant Quinn