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by Steve Graham • March 24, 2000The Serbian astrophysicist Milutin Milankovitch is best known for developing one of the most significant theories relating Earth motions and long-term climate change. Born in 1879 in the rural village of Dalj (then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, today located in Croatia), Milankovitch attended the Vienna Institute of Technology and graduated in 1904 with a doctorate in technical sciences. After a brief stint as the chief engineer for a construction company, he accepted a faculty position in applied mathematics at the University of Belgrade in 1909a position he held for the remainder of his life.
Milankovitch dedicated his career to developing a mathematical theory of climate based on the seasonal and latitudinal variations of solar radiation received by the Earth. Now known as the Milankovitch Theory, it states that as the Earth travels through space around the sun, cyclical variations in three elements of Earth-sun geometry combine to produce variations in the amount of solar energy that reaches Earth:
Together, the periods of these orbital motions have become known as Milankovitch cycles.
next: Orbital Variations