Between 1650 and 1915 the so-called “Little Ice Age” occurred on Earth: a period of extremely low solar activity in the northern hemisphere that, combined with the cooling of volcanic aerosols, caused lower surface temperatures. Among the consequences of this decrease in global heat, alpine towns were devastated by the unstoppable advance of the glaciers or London citizens were able to skate on the Thames, for example. For some years now, some scientists have warned that a similar situation could occur around the 2030s. What is true in this?
Now, NASA itself has wanted to refute the predictions of the next “Mini Ice Age” by the expected – and proven – decrease in the energy production of our star in the coming decades. That is to say: yes there will be a “Great Solar Minimum”, but it will not affect the Earth, already overheated by the effect of climate change.
Natural changes in the solar cycle
Throughout its useful life, the Sun undergoes natural changes in energy production. Some occur during a normal 11-year period of peak (many sunspots) and low activity (fewer sunspots), which are quite predictable, called the “solar cycle.” However, from time to time, our star becomes quieter, shows much less sunspots and emits less energy. This phenomenon is known as the “Great Solar Minimum,” and the last time this happened, it actually coincided with the “Little Ice Age” from the late Middle Ages until almost the end of the 19th century.
This is why some scientists have foreshadowed this new “little ice age.” However, other researchers point out that this drop in temperatures would only offset three years of current growth in the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2), which produces the reverse effect. “Therefore, a new Great Solar Minimum would only serve to compensate for a few years of warming caused by human activities,” they say in a statement from the space agency through the Ask Nasa Climate blog.
In fact, the warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions from human burning of fossil fuels is six times greater than the possible decades-long cooling of a prolonged solar minimum. What’s more, even if a Great Solar Minimum lasted a century, global temperatures would continue to rise. And this happens because the fact that the Earth warms up depends not only on the energy production of the Sun, but also on what we humans do on its surface. And, today, our greenhouse gas emissions are the main driver of rising temperatures, indicate from NASA. In other words, a new “mini ice age” will not make much difference and will not even help alleviate the phenomena of climate change. .