Bundle Up: Scientists Predict 'Mini Ice Age' Will Hit Earth in Five Years

Thursday, 28 December 2017 - 8:37AM
Weird Science
Earth
Thursday, 28 December 2017 - 8:37AM
Bundle Up: Scientists Predict 'Mini Ice Age' Will Hit Earth in Five Years
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In the modern world, most people are very used to hearing scientists prophesying of the dangers of man-made climate change, often referred to as global warming, as trapped carbon dioxide in our atmosphere causes the planet's temperature to rise, and the polar ice to melt at an alarming rate.

Now, though, scientists led by Valentina Zharkova at Northumbria University are arguing that we might be about to see the reverse occurring - instead of heating up, starting in 2021, the world is going to enter a period of cooling that's being described as a "mini ice age".

via GIPHY


The issue has to do with the sun's decade-long solar cycle. Every ten to twelve years, our sun goes through a fairly predictable pattern of behavior, venting solar radiation, and rising or falling in temperature.

Every cycle is different, and it's not possible to entirely predict what's coming, but by looking at certain signs in the sun's solar activity, Zharkova has made some educated guesses about the upcoming cycle.

If Zharkova's predictions are correct, starting in 2021, the sun will quiet down a lot, letting off a lot less energy and heat. This, then, will affect our planet, as global temperatures drop as a result of less light and heat making it to the Earth.



While anyone who's seen Batman and Robin will be able to tell you that similar conditions killed the dinosaurs, this prophecy isn't all doom and gloom - if anything, Zharkova thinks that this is a great blessing to our species, as we grapple with trying to kick our unhealthy fossil fuel addiction.

Miniature ice ages (known scientifically as "Maunder minimum" periods) have come many times in the past - a similar one, for example, was reponsible for low temperatures that froze the River Thames in London back in the seventeenth century.

In the current era, thanks to global warming, we're unlikely to see any big effects whatsoever, but if we're lucky, the small freeze will be enough to stave off the effects of man-made climate change, helping to refreeze polar ice, and having the effect of dumping a giant ice cube into the ocean, Futurama style, to keep things nice and cool.



Of course, the danger of news like this is that certain people can willfully ignore its full implications. It's nice to hear that the world will be cooling slightly and that some of the terrible weather effects we've been seeing recently will likely slow, but this doesn't mean that major polluters are off the hook. This is a grace period, providing us with enough time to sort out our crap (sometimes literally), but eventually the bubble will burst, the sun will heat up, and we'll all be in danger if we don't clean up our act.

In the words of Valentia Zharkova herself:

Opening quote
"I hope global warning will be overridden by this effect, giving humankind and the Earth 30 years to sort out our pollution. We have to be sorted by that time and prepare everything on Earth for the next big solar activity."
Closing quote


Don't think we can rest on our laurels as the Earth naturally dips in temperature - this mini ice age is just what we need at this period of Earth's history, but it won't last forever, and once things start heating up again, things are going to get real sticky if we've become accustomed to enjoying a slightly cooler Earth.
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