Earth's climate has been influenced by the gravitational pulls of Venus and Jupiter for at least 215 million years, causing summers to be hotter, winters to be colder, dry spells to be drier, and wet times to be wetter, according to a study published on Monday.
Every 405,000 years, or so, the gravitational forces from Venus and Jupiter cause the Earth to wobble in its orbit, causing the climate to change, according to the study led by Dennis Kent of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Rutgers University, USA Today reported.
"There are other, shorter, orbital cycles, but when you look into the past, it's very difficult to know which one you're dealing with at any one time, because they change over time," said Kent, an expert in paleomagnetism who studies Earth's magnetic field.
"The beauty of this one is that it stands alone. It doesn't change. All the other ones move over it," Kent said in his study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
There are reasons for the influence. Venus is the closest planet to Earth at 162 million miles and roughly similar in mass while Jupiter is the solar system's largest planet, some 2.5 times bigger than all other planets combined, the observatory noted.
Researchers for years have found that the Earth's orbit around the sun goes from nearly circular to about five percent elliptical, and back again every 405,000 years, which is believed to be caused by the complex interplay with the gravitational tugs provided by Venus and Jupiter, the observatory said.
According to the observatory, astrophysicists believe they can use mathematical calculations to prove that the cycle has been reliable back to around 50 million years, then gets too complex before that time "because too many shifting motions are at play."
"The climate cycles are directly related to how the Earth orbits the sun and slight variations in sunlight reaching Earth lead to climate and ecological changes," said Kent, per USA Today.
According to the study, more rain falls in the tropics, allowing lakes there to fill up at the height of the cycle. At the other end of the cycle, seasonal rains in the tropics "are less and lakes have much less of a tendency to become as full," Kent said.
Linda Hinnov, a professor at George Mason University who studies the deep past, told the observatory that the new study lends support to previous studies and "could lead to new insights into early dinosaur evolution."
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.