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Earth's climate moving towards the "mini ice age"

Global warming and a series of catastrophic effects have been one of the hot issues that scientists in various countries have closely followed. 

Devdiscourse News Desk China
Updated: 23-03-2018 12:12 IST
Earth's climate moving towards the "mini ice age"

Stephen Hawking once warned people in 2016 that the earth's climate is moving toward the "mini ice age." (Image credit: Wikipedia)

Recently, scientists at the University of California claimed that they had found a way to track the cycle of solar activity and predicted that the sun would become "unusually cold" by 2050 at the earliest. Moreover, scientists believe that this cooling trend will help ease the impact of global warming.

The Hawking, who had just passed away, once warned people in 2016 that the earth's climate is moving toward the "mini ice age." In the same year, researchers at Northumbria University in the United Kingdom also used mathematics models to predict that solar activity will be reduced by 60 percent between 2030 and 2040, leading to the conclusion that the earth may become cold.

Solar activity cycle

The conclusion that the earth will become cold comes from the simulation prediction of the solar activity cycle by researchers. As early as 1843, scientists discovered for the first time that solar activity was changing in a 10-12 year cycle. During this period, the sun will experience an active period and a quiet period - known as the solar maximum period and the minimum period of solar activity, respectively, as per Bright Network.

According to this law, in 2016, the research team of Northumbria University in the UK believes that the number of sunspots will decrease during the next two solar cycles, and the 25th cycle will reach its peak in 2022. And during the 26th cycle from 2030 to 2040, solar activity will be greatly reduced, as per Bright Network.

The last time this happened was in the period from 1550 to 1770 AD. There was a general global downward trend in temperature and it was later known as the “Little Ice Age”. According to records, during the 70 years between 1645 and 1715 AD, solar activity attenuated to a very low state (Monday minimum), and sunspots were barely recorded. During this time, crop yields have decreased, and there have been many starved people around the world.

This year, scientists at the University of California discovered a much larger period of change than the previous solar activity cycle, an average of 400 years and one cycle of change. That is, every 400 years, the sun will enter the "Grand Minimum" of the sun as referred to by astronomy.

In this period, the sun's magnetism will be significantly reduced, the number of sunspots will be significantly reduced, and the radiation reaching the earth's surface will also be reduced. At present, it is precisely at the critical time point of the "macro-mini period." During this period, solar activity may be 7 percent lower than the lowest point of the regular 11-year cycle, as per Bright Network. 

Accuracy to be verified

Although according to the mathematical model, there is a certain basis, Zhang Zhihua, professor of the Beijing Institute of Global Change and Earth System Science at Beijing Normal University, said in an interview with a reporter from the China Science Journal: “The reliability of these predictions is still questionable.”

For example, in 2016, the research team of the University of Northumbria, UK, based on the data of the solar magnetic field from 1978 to 2008, used a two-layer model to find that the solar minimum that resembles the minimum age of Mongolia between 2030 and 2040 The conclusion of the period, as per Bright Network. 

Because this prediction was made based on observations from only three solar cycles, the uncertainty of the predictions may be high; and Dan Lubin and his collaborators at the University of California, USA, based on 33 solar-type stars in 1978. The data of ultraviolet radiation in 1996 estimated that the ultraviolet radiation in the minimum period of the sun will decrease by an additional 5.5 percent to 8.4 percent on the basis of the original.

"The conclusion of this study is not to directly study the sun's income. Instead, it is based on the Sun-type stellar research institute. The number of solar-type stars analyzed is small, and the accuracy of the observed ultraviolet flux data is unknown. The restrictions reduce the reliability of the forecast.”, Zhang Zhihua believes, as per Bright Network.

Moreover, even if the Sun's giant minimum period "as expected" is not equivalent to the Earth will once again experience all of the Little Ice Age experience in 1645, "The reason is the extent to which the origin of the Little Ice Age has historically been. The scientific community still has a lot of controversy because of the history of the solar giant, the period of minimum Monday, Zhang Zhihua said.

In fact, internationally, it is widely believed that the global temperature change associated with the strength of the solar cycle activity is very small. According to experience, the recent changes in the solar cycle affect the global average temperature, which is only about 0.1 degrees Celsius. Even if the earth upon which mankind relies is once again entering the ice age, the transition will not happen in an instant, but it will be a long process of transformation.

It is difficult to change the trend of global warming

According to Bright Network, global warming and a series of catastrophic effects such as the melting of glaciers and rising sea levels have been one of the hot issues that scientists in various countries have closely followed. 

"Now the research on the prediction of the solar giant phase only considers changes in solar activity, and it can lead to the future cooling of the earth. This requires the use of high-resolution climate and earth system simulation methods for detailed analysis and assessment. The relevant research is being carried out." says  Zhang Zhihua, environment researcher.

For the public, Zhang Zhihua believes that there is no need to panic about the so-called "mini ice age", because even if a small period of the sun, like the Month minimum period, occurs, it is generally believed that at best it may slow down global warming to some extent. Speed will not change the long-term trend of global warming caused by greenhouse gases emitted by human activities.

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