Earth could experience extreme cold weather conditions in the next 30 years as the planet plunges into a “solar minimum.”
Scientists warn of a severe cold snap that may threaten food shortages and reduce temperatures down to 1 degree Celsius in 2020, with the earth getting much colder after this.
According to NASA, the sun will enter its coolest “solar minimum” period in the last 200 years and scientists assert that it does not bode well for Earth’s conditions.
A “solar minimum” (or solar hibernation) is the sun’s least active period during its 11-year cycle. This means that the sun will be projecting less heat, resulting in significant temperature drop and heavy snowstorms.
“The Sun is approaching a hibernation period. Less sunspots will be formed on the solar surface and thus less energy and radiation will be emitted towards the planets and the Earth. The reduction in temperature will result in cold weathers on Earth, wet and cold summers, cold and wet winters.”
Although solar minimums are a natural occurrence, this time is more problematic because the sun will enter what scientists call a “Grand Solar Minimum,” in which solar activity drops even more than usual.
“We will possibly get big frosts as is happening now in Canada where they see [temperatures] of -50C. But this is only the start of GSM, there is more to come in the next 33 years.”
The solar minimum is predicted to cause an average 1C temperature drop worldwide. This means the planet will likely experience colder and wetter winters and summers while crops struggle to grow. Colder regions might plunge into big freezes of up to -50C.
What is a “mini ice age?”
There is only one record of a Little Ice Age in history. Earth experienced an extended period of cooling in the early 14th century through the mid-19th century. This happened right after the Medieval Warm Period, which occurred from c. 950 to c. 1250.
This Little Ice Age was not technically a true ice age. The term was coined by a geologist François E. Matthes in 1939, because of geographical changes that occurred during the cooling period. During this time, the planet underwent a 4,000-year period of mountain-glacier expansion and retreat in the glaciers of the European Alps, New Zealand, Alaska, and the southern Andes.
The mini-ice age had a bitter impact on human civilization, too. As glaciers crept below their usual limits, towns and farms were literally obliterated in Europe and the North Atlantic region. The continuous cold summers and freezing winters made it almost impossible for crops to grow, resulting in massive food shortages.
Is it possible we’ll experience another mini ice age?
The consensus seems mixed on whether or not this latest solar minimum will lead us to new mini ice age.
While other scientists like Zharkova believe the next 30 years will be problematic, other experts think it might not make such a big difference at all.
University of Reading physicist and solar expert Mike Lockwood and his team also reviewed their own data on sun spots, frost fairs, and the last LIA (Little Ice Age). What they discovered is a little (thankfully) underwhelming.
Lockwood asserts that during full-blown ice ages, average temperatures were approximately 4–8C cooler than in modern times. During the LIA, meanwhile, temperatures were a mere 0.5°C cooler than normal.
“Compared to the changes in the proper ice ages, the so-called Little Ice Age (LIA) is a very short-lived and puny climate and social perturbation.”
Either way, it’s worth tuning into these developments as they unfold. In the meantime, the threat of global warming and climate change have more solid backing. So perhaps, we should pay more attention to that.