By Tom Quiner
Solar activity is slowing down.
So say scientists attending the National Astronomy meeting in Wales.
Northumbria University professor Valentina Zharkova explains that cyclic solar activity will mirror a similar cycle that occurred in the 1600s when the earth experienced what some call a mini ice age.
This mini ice age is known as the “Maunder Minimum.” Wikipedia describes the condition…
“… as the “prolonged sunspot minimum”, is the name used for the period starting in about 1645 and continuing to about 1715 when sunspots became exceedingly rare, as noted by solar observers of the time.”
Professor Zharkova explains her scientific data this way:
“In cycle 26, the two waves exactly mirror each other, peaking at the same time but in opposite hemispheres of the Sun. We predict that this will lead to the properties of a ‘Maunder minimum. Over the cycle, the waves fluctuate between the Sun’s northern and southern hemispheres. Combining both waves together and comparing to real data for the current solar cycle, we found that our predictions showed an accuracy of 97 per cent.”
Does that mean the earth will go into a mini age beginning in 2030?
Jason Funk, a senior climate scientist for the climate and energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, is dubious:
“We’re living in a time when human activity has created so many emissions of heat trapping gases in the atmosphere that that effect is now swamping the effects of these cycles of sun energy hitting the earth. Because of the human-driven effect on the climate we’ve seeing now, the importance of the sun dynamic is somewhat diminished relative to what people are doing to the climate system.”
The layman can see how challenging it is to predict the earth’s climate.
We know it is always changing.
Will the ‘Maunder Medium’ usher in another ice age beginning in fifteen years? Not even scientists are sure. Perhaps the human-driven effect to which Mr. Funk refers will help mitigate the effects of the next mini ice age.