Report: Scientists predict a century of global cooling

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor

Better start investing in some warm clothes because German scientists are predicting that the Earth will cool over the next century.

German scientists found that two naturally occurring cycles will combine to lower global temperatures during the 21st century, eventually dropping to levels corresponding with the “little ice age” of 1870.

“Due to the de Vries cycle, the global temperature will drop until 2100 to a value corresponding to the ‘little ice age’ of 1870,” write German scientists Horst-Joachim Luedecke and Carl-Otto Weiss of the European Institute for Climate and Energy.

Researchers used historical temperature data and data from cave stalagmites to show a 200-year solar cycle, called the de Vries cycle.

They also factored into their work a well-established 65-year Atlantic and Pacific Ocean oscillation cycle. Global warming that has occurred since 1870 can be attributed almost entirely to both these factors, the scientists argue.

According to the scientists, the oft-cited “stagnation” in rising global temperatures over the last 15 years is due to the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean oscillation cycle, which lasts about 65 years. Ocean oscillation is past its “maximum,” leading to small decreases in global temperature.

The de Vries solar cycle is currently at its “maximum,” explaining why temperatures have risen since 1870, but leveled off after 1998. However, this means that as solar activity starts to decrease, global temperatures will follow.

“Through [the de Vries solar cycle’s] influence the temperature will decrease until 2100 to a value like the one of the last ‘Little Ice Age’ 1870,” the scientists wrote.

Most scientists argue that human activity — mainly burning fossil fuels — is driving global temperatures higher as more greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere. In response, governments from countries around the world have agreed to limit temperature rises to two degrees Celsius by 2100. Most of this effort focuses on cutting each nation’s reliance on fossil fuels.

Scientists, however, have been increasingly turning against the global warming consensus and arguing that the world is actually in line for a colder century.

Professor Mike Lockwood of Reading University argues that the world is set for global cooling due to rapidly falling solar activity.

“By looking back at certain isotopes in ice cores, [Professor Lockwood] has been able to determine how active the sun has been over thousands of years,” the BBC reports. “Following analysis of the data, Professor Lockwood believes solar activity is now falling more rapidly than at any time in the last 10,000 years.”

Solar activity is one line of evidence scientists have used to find global cooling. Low sunspot activity has been linked with colder periods in human history, like the “Little Ice Age” during the 1600s, while higher levels of sunspot activity have been linked to warmer periods.

“When we have had periods where the sun has been quieter than usual we tend to get these much harsher winters,” Sunderland University climate scientist Dennis Wheeler told the Daily Express.

Last year, Russian scientists argued that the world could soon plunge into another Little Ice Age based on solar activity, heralding a new “Little Ice Age.”

“After the maximum of solar cycle 24, from approximately 2014 we can expect the start of deep cooling with a Little Ice Age in 2055,” wrote Habibullo Abdussamatov of the Russian Academy of Science.

“So the warming we saw, which lasted only from 1978 to 1998, is something that is predictable and expectable,” said Don Easterbrook, professor emeritus of geology at Western Washington University. “When the ocean changed temperatures, global cooling is almost a slam dunk. You can expect to find about 25 to 30 years yet ahead of us before it starts to warm up again. It might even be more than that.”

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