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Last week, findings from a study conducted on climate change were announced at the National Astronomy Meeting, which claim solar activity will decrease by over 60 percent by 2030, leading to a mini ice age for the Earth. However, a group of scientists from New Zealand are dismissing these claims of a frozen apocalypse, and believe the decrease in the Sun’s output will only cause average temperatures on Earth to drop barely below pre-Industrial Revolution levels.
The team of researchers from Northumbria University forecast solar cycles on current data, which occurs at a rate of every 11 years. The cycles, according to the study, “cancel each other out between 2030 and 2040.” Professor Valentina Zharkova, lead of the study, stated the dip in solar activity could possibly bring conditions similar to those during the Maunder minimum, around 370 years ago, which lasted for 70 years.
During this period of solar minimum, fewer sun spots were recorded and the Earth’s average temperature fell a few degrees Celsius. Cooler than average temperatures affected Europe the most during the late 1700s and early 1800s. With that being said, scientific consensus behind the Sun’s involvement is still missing.
According to a recent study published with data from NASA, solar activity has not been deemed irregular over the last century, and typically has a very little effect on overall average temperatures. Therefore, it is unlikely that it will being snowing in Georgia in July as a mini ice age overcomes the Earth.
Dr. James Renwick, a climatologist at Victoria University, explained that if the current solar modelling was correct, it would result in one-Watt reduction of solar intensity per square meter, which is about one tenth of one percent of total solar output. “The big difference now is that there is a lot more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere than there was in the 1700s,” Renwick said.
He believes if the solar forecast is right, the Earth will not be victim to an ice age, but, “it would roughly cancel out the ‘global warming’ that we have seen over the past 100 years, for 20-30 years.” Once the solar cycle goes back to normal the Earth will once again experience global warming at an even more advanced rate.
In 2022, scientists state a, “pair of waves will be moving to the Northern and Southern Hemispheres of the Sun, getting slowly out of sync and reducing solar activity – and thus our warm weather.” Zharkova said this information proves that something like a Maunder minimum event could happen within the next few decades.
University of Waikato space physicist Sean Oughton said the new research fit with predictions for a dip solar activity over the next 30 to 40 years. Though, this does not show a correlation with the atmospheric changes happening on Earth.
“If the prediction for solar activity holds up, then yes, the conditions on the sun will probably be similar to those during the Maunder minimum.” This does not mean that climate conditions on Earth would be similar, according to his findings. The Maunder minimum started following the beginning of the Little Ice Age. This indicates that both scenarios cannot be linked, he said.
Furthermore, Zharkova’s research has not been published in a scientific journal, which means her data has not gone through a peer review process for confirmation. Therefore, Earth may not be in store for a mini ice age after all.
Opinion by Alex Lemieux
Stuff.co.nz: Calmer sun might not mean new Ice Age
IFLScience.com: Thanks To Reduced Solar Activity, We Could Be Heading For A Mini Ice Age In 2030
Photo Courtesy of oliver.dodd’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License