Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

In retrospect

Forty years of linking orbits to ice ages

In 1976, it was demonstrated that tiny wobbles in Earth's orbit led to the great ice-age cycles of the past few million years. This finding had wide implications for climate science and the details remain hotly debated today.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Prices vary by article type



Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1: Milankovitch cycles.


  1. See all news & views


  1. Hays, J. D., Imbrie, J. & Shackleton, N. J. Science 194, 1121–1132 (1976).

    Article  CAS  ADS  Google Scholar 

  2. Milanković, M. M. Canon of Insolation and the Ice-Age Problem (R. Serb. Acad., 1941).

    Google Scholar 

  3. Lisiecki, L. E. & Raymo, M. E. Paleoceanography 20, PA1003 (2005).

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  4. Maslin, M. A. et al. Quat. Sci. Rev. 101, 1–17 (2014).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  5. Zhang, S. et al. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 112, E1406–E1413 (2015).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Maslin, M. A. & Brierley, C. M. Quat. Int. 389, 47–55 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Ridgwell, A., Watson, A. J. & Raymo, M. E. Paleoceanography 14, 437–440 (1999).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  8. Huybers, P. J. Nature 480, 229–232 (2011).

    Article  CAS  ADS  Google Scholar 

  9. Huybers, P. & Wunsch, C. Nature 434, 491–494 (2005).

    Article  CAS  ADS  Google Scholar 

  10. Ruddiman, W. F. Clim. Change 61, 261–293 (2003).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Tzedakis, P. C., Channell, J. E. T., Hodell, D. A., Kleiven, H. F. & Skinner, L. C. Nature Geosci. 5, 138–141 (2012).

    Article  CAS  ADS  Google Scholar 

  12. Archer, D. & Ganopolski, A. Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst. 6, Q05003 (2005).

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  13. Lewis, S. L. & Maslin, M. A. Nature 519, 171–180 (2015).

    Article  CAS  ADS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Mark Maslin.

Related links

Related links

Related links in Nature Research

Earth science: An extended yardstick for climate variability

Climate science: Earth's narrow escape from a big freeze

Climate change: Another Antarctic rhythm

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Maslin, M. Forty years of linking orbits to ice ages. Nature 540, 208–209 (2016).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing