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Mini Ice Age: Low Solar Activity Could Lead To Another Glacial Epoch

First Posted: Nov 30, 2016 03:15 AM EST
Mini Ice Age
Does the ongoing low solar activity mean another ice age is coming?
(Photo : Carls TV Channel/YouTube)

NASA has recently captured images of a nearly spotless Sun -- which means our star is in its lowest activity level since 2011.

Mail Online reported that looking at the images taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, the Sun is almost on its "cue ball" mode, barely showing few spots on its surface. This surprised the scientists since the solar minimum should not actually happen until 2021, based on its latest activity peak in 2014.

This follows the 11-year pendulum-like solar cycle, wherein the Sun arrives to a solar minimum at one end (with the least number of sunspots and flares) and solar max on the other end (which brings the highest number of sunspots and solar storms).

The NASA researchers, who expected bigger sunspots in the middle of the cycle, apparently found otherwise. The space agency added that the number of sunspots are even decreasing rapidly than before.

This followed the Sun's quietest period in late June of this year, which apparently never happened for more than a century. We are currently on the 24th cycle that started in 2008.

This behavior, however, is not unusual for the Sun. But if the trend continues, experts have warned that this could eventually prompt the Earth to experience "mini ice age."

This future mini ice age, however, would not be as cold as its last occurrence, the Maunder minimum during the 17th to 18th century, according to Dr. Helen Popova. She generated a one-of-a-kind physical-mathematical model of the evolution of the Sun's magnetic activity and used it to discover and interpret the patterns of solar minimum occurrences.

"Given that our future minimum will last for at least three solar cycles, which is about 30 years, it is possible, that the lowering of the temperature will not be as deep as during the Maunder minimum," Popova previously told Astronomy Now. "But we will have to examine it in detail. We keep in touch with climatologists from different countries. We plan to work in this direction."

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