Astronomers from India, China and Japan have found evidence from sunspots showing that Earth may be heading into a “little ice age.”
A recent, lower than average, sunspot count by the Physical Research Laboratory in India indicates Earth could enter a period of low solar activity by 2020, according to a report published Wednesday in The Times of India. Sunspot activity is currently approaching a 200 year low.
There has been a drastic decline in the number of sunspots and a corresponding decrease in solar wind microturbulence during the Sun’s last two 11-year solar cycles, according to research published online last August.
The scientists openly worry about a repeat of the period between 1645 and 1715 AD when the sun was almost completely spotless, which coincided with most of Earth witnessing extremely harsh winters. The scientists believe that the sun has been growing less active and that sunspots have become rarer over the last two decades.
“The sun is the primary driver of the earth’s weather and climate so fluctuations in the character of the sun’s output are well-worth paying attention to,” Chip Knappenberger, a climate scientist at the libertarian Cato Institute, told The Daily Caller Caller News Foundation.
“The new research is indicating that such a change is underway and akin to changes that in the past have been associated with a cooler climate (and concomitant other impacts). However, today’s atmospheric composition is different that in the past (e.g., more heat-trapping greenhouse gases), so the any climatic response this time around is likely to be different than during previous such solar events. For example, the changes in the solar output may act to counteract some of the warming pressure from a higher concentration of greenhouse gases, more so than lead to conditions similar to the ‘Little Ice Age.'”
These scientists predict that the sun will become noticeably less active between 2030 and 2040. Other studies predict that the Sun would enter solar minimum, causing a period of global cooling on Earth, sometime in the 2050s. The cooling period could potentially outweigh any global warming.
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