New scientific research has just been released that shows a phenomenon known as the solar “grand minimum.”
Also, defined as the “prolonged sunspot minimum,” it’s a time when the Sun’s magnetic force will weaken, sunspots will be considerably less common, and less UV radiation will make it to planet Earth — allowing for random changes in the Sun’s magnetic field. All of it can imply exceptionally cold temperatures for us, and it’ll also make the Sun look weaker.
The Sun is on an 11-year up/down cycle as it is, but this grand minimum will be unusually cold, as the Sun’s activity will plunge lower than the typical 11-year low. That correlates to cooler temperatures for portions of the planet.
How cold? Estimates, based on a study of prior sunspot reductions approaching a grand minimum phase, are that we’ll witness a 7 percent drop in the Sun’s light and heat — and recall, that’s 7 percent lower than the lowest of the 11-year cycle that we typically see.
Such a great minimum happened around 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 corresponding cold temperatures saw the river Thames freeze, and the Baltic Sea as well — which permitted a Swedish army to infiltrate Denmark by rushing across the ice.
At the same time, Alaska and Southern Greenland warmed, due to the weakening of the Earth’s stratospheric ozone layer, which modifies wind and weather conditions throughout the planet.
The exact timing and intensity of the disaster are still in discussion, but the indicators all point to things bottoming out around the year 2050. It might start as soon as 2030, however. Just for context, the Maunder Minimum lasted from 1645 to roughly 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 induced by the growing quantity of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” according to the study.
Reference(s): Peer-Reviewed Research Paper