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There has been a lot of press lately about a report by Professor Valentina Zharkova stating that we are going to experience a Mini Ice Age within about 15 years and that it could ultimately last for around 10 years.
Reasons For A Mini Ice Age
It’s been known since around 1843 that the sun routinely goes through cycles of activity that last for about 11 years.
In a presentation at the National Astronomy meeting, Professor Zharkova outlined the results of a new model that he and his team have created to better understand the these cycles.
This new model suggests that the sun’s activities could fall by as much as 60 percent between the years of 2030 and 2040.
Since the energy from the sun’s activities is one of the things that keeps our world warm, a lower level of these activities would also lower the temperatures around our globe.
Chance Of A Mini Ice Age
If this models conclusions hold up it seems that we have a good chance of seeing a mini ice age happen.
The last time that such a lull in solar activity was observed was in the 17th Century between 1645 and 1715.
This period is called the Maunder Minimum, named for the two astronomers, Annie and E. Walter Maunder, who studied sunspots and helped identify the sun’s strange activity during that period.
That time period saw only 30 sunspots or about one one-thousandth of what would normally be expected and coincided with a “Little Ice Age” in Europe.
It was during this period when the planet experienced heavier than normal snow falls and large bodies of water like the Thames River and the Baltic Sea froze over.
The conclusion that Professor Zharkova and his team reached are still a matter of debate but even if they are partially true we could be in for a weather change in the near future.
The Counter Argument
But then again, maybe not. It seems that there is also a lot of evidence that the Little Ice Age of the 17th Century may have been strongly influenced by a rash of volcanoes that were erupting at that time.
This caused more ash in the air that blocked the sun’s heat and might have caused the temperature drops.
Many feel that there is just not that much difference in the suns heat that reaches the earth whether there is a lot of solar activity or very little activity.
Or the Mini Ice Age that they experienced in the 17th century might have been caused by some combination of these two factors.
The bottom line is that no one seems to know for sure and we really won’t know until we get to 2030 and see what happens.
How A Mini Ice Age Would Affect Our Lives
If there was a new mini ice age, it would probably happen slowly and we would be able to adapt to the changes.
It’s much more likely that any weather changes that we see would be because of the rising impact of greenhouse gasses.
At the best, most scientists believe that a new Maunder Minimum would only reduce the total warming trend that we are currently experiencing only slightly and then only for a brief period.
Even though it sounds contrary to logic the global warming that is happening is already going to cause colder, harsher winters and more unpredictable weather so this new data isn’t going to be of a huge impact.
Conclusion to Mini Ice Age
There are a lot of times when the media gets ahold of some bit of scientific information and runs with it, looking for what seems like a new dooms day scenario.
This idea of a mini ice age seems like one of those times. It shouldn’t distract us from the very real changes that are currently happening because of global warming.
Whether or not you believe that global warming is real or not isn’t the issue since we are seeing things happening that only the most stubborn person would deny.
Those are the weather changes that we should be worried about. In fact, if there is a mini ice age it wouldn’t really be a bad thing.
It would give us a respite, no matter how small to get the things that we need to do to stop global warming from getting worse.
What we should really be worrying about is whether or not we have reached the tipping point where we can’t avoid global warming and its longer lasting and detrimental affects to our climate.
In fact, the researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research used a sophisticated computer model to predict the effects of a future “grand solar minimum” on our climate between 2020 to 2070.
Their model suggested the even though the solar minimum might slow down global warming by 20-30 percent during the solar lull within a couple of decades later the expected temperatures of global warming would return.
So, the bottom line is that this solar lull, even if it happens, probably isn’t going to get us out of the global warming problem.
This is certainly not the news that we want to hear but better than having a mini ice age with all the possible problems that would bring.