(CBS Local) — Will solar cooling solve Earth’s problem of global warming? Scientists are predicting that the sun is about to enter a massive cooling cycle which could lead to a mini ice age by the year 2050.
According to a study by the University of California San Diego, the sun will begin to have diminished magnetism, fewer sunspots, and produce less ultraviolet radiation starting in 2020. The event, known as the “grand minimum,” is reportedly triggered at random points by fluctuations in the sun’s magnetic field and is expected to last for about 50 years.
Researchers are comparing the sun’s upcoming cooling cycle to the last recorded sunspot outage which occurred over 300 years ago. Called the Maunder Minimum, the drop-off in sunspot activity took place from 1645 to 1715 and was part of a period known as the “Little Ice Age.” That cold spell is believed to have lasted from 1300 to 1850 and saw a huge expansion in mountain glaciers as well as large portions of Europe frozen solid.
While the report expects the sun to be nearly seven percent cooler than it was during the Maunder Minimum, UC San Diego says the world has gotten so much warmer in recent years that the effect will not be as severe. “A future grand solar minimum could slow down but not stop global warming,” Physicist Dan Lubin said in the university’s new release.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ranked 2017 as the third-warmest year on record since 1880.