Mini ice age? Why the Sun will lose 7% of its power in about 30 years

Brrrrrrr.

A new scientific study has just been published that illustrates a phenomenon known as the solar "grand minimum."


Also, known as the "prolonged sunspot minimum," it’s a period when the Sun’s magnetic pull will diminish, sunspots will be much less frequent, and less ultraviolet radiation will make it to planet Earth — all due to random fluctuations in the Sun’s magnetic field. All of that can mean unusually cool temperatures for us, and it’ll also make the Sun appear dimmer.

The Sun is on an 11-year up/down cycle as it is, but this grand minimum will be especially cold, as the Sun’s activity will go lower than the regular 11-year low. That translates to colder temperatures for parts of the world. 

Photo by NOAA/National Weather Service's Space Weather Prediction Center via Getty Images

 

How cold? Predictions, based on a study of previous sunspot reductions preceding a grand minimum period, are that we’ll see a 7% reduction in the Sun’s light and heat — and remember, that’s 7% lower than the lowest of the 11 year cycle that we usually see. 

Such a grand minimum happened in the middle of the 17th century. Known as the "Maunder Minimum" (from the names of 2 well respected solar astronomers of the time, Anne Russel Maunder and Edward Walter Maunder), the resultant cold temperatures saw the river Thames freeze, and the Baltic Sea as well — which allowed a Swedish army to invade Denmark by marching across the ice.

At the same time, Alaska and Southern Greenland warmed, due to the thinning of the Earth’s stratospheric ozone layer, which changes wind and weather patterns around the world.

The exact date and severity of the event is still in question, but the clues all point to things bottoming out around the year 2050. It could start as soon as 2030, however. Just for reference, the Maunder Minimum lasted from 1645 until about 1715. 

Will it save us from global warming? The very same scientists don’t think so

“The cooling effect of a grand minimum is only a fraction of the warming effect caused by the increasing concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere," according to the study. 

I have my own prediction: If I’m still alive by then, I’ll be heading to Jamaica.

 

How to vaccinate the world’s most vulnerable? Build global partnerships.

Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.

Susan Silbermann, Global President of Pfizer Vaccines, looks on as a health care worker administers a vaccine in Rwanda. Photo: Courtesy of Pfizer.
Sponsored
  • Community healthcare workers face many challenges in their work, including often traveling far distances to see their clients
  • Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
  • Pfizer partnered with AMP and the World Health Organization to develop a training program for healthcare workers.
Keep reading Show less

James Patterson on writing: Plotting, research, and first drafts

The best-selling author tells us his methods.

Videos
  • James Patterson has sold 300 million copies of his 130 books, making him one of the most successful authors alive today.
  • He talks about how some writers can overdo it by adding too much research, or worse, straying from their outline for too long.
  • James' latest book, The President is Missing, co-written with former President Bill Clinton, is out now.
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

Why the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner won’t feature a comedian in 2019

It's the first time the association hasn't hired a comedian in 16 years.

(Photo by Anna Webber/Getty Images for Vulture Festival)
Culture & Religion
  • The 2018 WHCA ended in controversy after comedian Michelle Wolf made jokes some considered to be offensive.
  • The WHCA apologized for Wolf's jokes, though some journalists and many comedians backed the comedian and decried arguments in favor of limiting the types of speech permitted at the event.
  • Ron Chernow, who penned a bestselling biography of Alexander Hamilton, will speak at next year's dinner.
Keep reading Show less