The sun might be unusually cool by 2050, according to a new study. On the basis of 20 years of observations and collected data, scientists have calculated that the sun will be nearly seven percent cooler and dimmer by 2050, which could result in a mini ice age.
Based on the cooling spiral of recent solar cycles, scientists from University of California, San Diego believe the next “grand-minimum” is just decades away, during which the sun will be 7 percent cooler.
The sun moves through an 11-year-cycle where it experiences active and quiet periods, known as the solar maximum and solar minimum. The researchers believe they have worked out when the next solar minimum could occur.
During a solar minimum, the sun’s magnetism decreases, fewer sunspots form and less ultraviolet radiation makes it to the surface of the planet. The conditions mean the sun’s surface appears clearer and becomes dimmer.
A grand-minimum, according to the study, is a period of very low solar activity, which will lead to lower temperature on earth.
During the grand-minimum in the mid-17th century, named Maunder Minimum, the temperature dropped low enough to freeze the Thames River.
However, the cooling is not uniform around the globe. Despite the chilling weather in Europe during the Maunder Minimum, other areas such as Alaska and southern Greenland warmed.
The phenomenon appears to offer a natural solution to global warming, but scientists invalidated that idea.
They explained that the cooling effect of the grand minimum could merely slow down global warming, but cannot stop it.
Scientists estimate that the grand minimum would probably only result in cooling the earth by about 0.25 percent between 2020 and 2070.
The finding has been published in the Chicago-based journal Astrophysical Journal Letters.