A method of quantitative climatological analysis is developed by applying the principle of geometric similarity to the convective heat transport, which is assumed to vary with the 1.5 power of temperature difference. The method makes possible the calculation of the change in the mean annual, or seasonal temperature, produced by a variation in insolation, cloudiness, snow cover, etc.
It is shown that the variations in the orbital elements of the earth cannot account for the phenomena of the ice ages; the chronology of the Quaternary, based on these variations, has no real foundation.
Palaeoclimatic variations are most probably due to variations of solar luminosity. These can be traced to periodical re-adjustments in the interior of the sun, produced by an interplay between nuclear reactions and gas diffusion, repeating themselves after some 250 million years. Complications from the outer envelope of the sun lead to additional fluctuations of a shorter period, of the order of 100,000 years to be identified with the periodical advance and retreat of the glaciers during the Quaternary.
Calculations of the variations of luminosity in a star of solar mass substantiate this hypothesis.