It has been predicted that in just 15 years, solar cycles will cancel each other out, sending earth into a ‘mini ice age’. Something that hasn’t occurred in three centuries since the ‘maunder minimum’ from 1645 to 1715 which caused London’s River Thames to freeze over.
Professor Valentina Zharkova, of the University of Northumbria, presented some good and bad news concerning climate change at the National Astronomy Meeting in Wales on Saturday.
The good news is that global warming isn’t going to happen, at least not for a long time. The bad news is that Solar Scientists have predicted the arrival of a mini ice age within the next 15 years.
The new study claims to have collected the best data yet regarding the activities of the sun, predicting solar cycles.
The solar cycle sees the amount of magnetic flux that rises up to the sun’s surface vary throughout the cycle. The regular rhythm on average lasts for around 11 years with one end of the cycle having a quiet time with few sunspots and flares, and at the other solar max brings high sunspot numbers of solar storms. Scientists have been monitoring these cycles for centuries, discovering that the solar cycle is not perfectly regular. They have predicted a 60 percent decrease in activity on the sun, which will trigger the ‘mini ice age’. If predictions are correct, we’re in for some extreme cold snaps for at least a decade in the midst of the 21st century.
The Maunder Minimum was a prolonged sunspot minimum that occurred from 1645 to 1715 where sunspots were exceedingly rare. At the moment we’re more than six years into Solar Cycle 24 and the sun is undergoing the minimum phase, reducing global temperatures and explaining the cold snap along the NSW – Queensland border that bought snow fall to places it is usually unseen.
Zharkova’s team have produced a model based on predictions that claims the pair of waves will become exceedingly sparse during cycle 25, due to peak in 2022. Cycle 26, which will occur from 2030-2040 is predicted to witness the two waves become exactly out of synch, triggering a decrease in solar activity.
“In cycle 26, the two waves exactly mirror each other – peaking at the same time but in opposite hemispheres of the Sun,” claims Zharkova.
“Their interaction will be disruptive, or they will nearly cancel each other. We predict that this will lead to the properties of a ‘Maunder minimum’.”
“Effectively, when the waves are approximately in phase, they can show strong interaction, or resonance, and we have strong solar activity. When they are out of phase, we have solar minimums.”
“When there is full phase separation, we have the conditions last seen during the Maunder minimum, 370 years ago.”
Zharkova and her team derived this model through a technique called ‘principal component analysis’ of the magnetic field observations from the Wilcox Solar Observatory in California. The solar scientists observed the solar cycles that occurred from 1876-2008. They also compared their predictions to average sunspot occurrences. Both good indicators of solar activity, with all predictions closely matched.