The Sun is going to experience its lowest activity in over 200 years in 2020. During this time, Earth will enter a “mini ice age” where there will be food shortage and extremely cold winters. The average temperature could even drop as much as one degree Celsius in one year. According to the data from NASA, this is because the Earth is about to experience a “solar minimum.”
What are solar minimums?
A solar minimum is a period of time when the Sun becomes dormant, exhibiting its lowest solar activity. This is a normal phenomenon that usually occurs once every 11 years. However, the solar minimum that we are going to experience this year is called a “Grand Solar Minimum.” This is an extreme solar minimum where solar activity is much lower than regular solar minimums. Grand Solar Minimums occur about once every 400 years.
The last Grand Solar Minimum, the Maunder Minimum, was between 1645 and 1715. During this time, the canals at Thames and Amsterdam froze over multiple times, a rare occurrence today.
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Professor Zharkova, a scientist that has published numerous papers on solar minimums, told The Sun that “the reduction in temperature will results in cold weathers on Earth, wet and cold summers, cold and wet winters.” She also mentioned unusually cold temperatures in Canada and Iceland as evidence that the effects of the Grand Solar Minimum are beginning. She continues to say that if the mini ice age turns out to be similar to the Maunder Minimum, we could experience mass food shortages as the agricultural industry will be severely affected.
Global Warming vs Grand Solar Minimum
Is Earth facing a global warming crisis or mini ice age? According to Professor Owens of Reading University, “The small reduction in the Sun’s energy associated with a solar minimum is vastly offset by effects caused by human activity, such as CO2 in the atmosphere.” He also told The Sun that it is unlikely that global climate will be affected in a detectable way. The effects Maunder Minimum was also influenced by multiple large-scale volcanic eruptions that brought down the temperatures. The Grand Solar Minimum was not the only factor affecting global climate during that time.
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