WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- “Grand Solar Minimum” is the period when solar activities are at its minimum, meaning fewer sunspots and solar flares.
- Scientists said that our sun is going to be cooler and dimmer than it has been for a very long time.
- But experts said there’s no cause for alarm because ice age, like in the movies, is not happening in the near future.
The Sun changes and goes through regular cycles of solar maximums and minimums. The period when the Sun is extremely active is called solar maximum, while the period when it is completely calm is what experts call solar minimum.
These cycles happen every 11 years or so. NASA scientists said that the sun is heading towards another solar minimum, expected in 2019-2020.
Published in Astrophysical Journal Letters, the study was conducted by a team of researchers led by physicist Dan Lubin of the University of California, San Diego. By combing the data, the team has predicted a grand minimum, around seven percent cooler than the usual solar minimum, will occur a few decades from now.
The Sun emits much less ultraviolet radiation during a solar minimum. This can affect Earth in number ways, including changes in the thickness of the stratospheric ozone layer and temperatures far above the ground. They can cause effects to the weather, too. But a grand minimum is an exaggerated version of the usual solar minimum and could cause some very evident effects.
The event, called the Maunder Minimum, happened in the mid-1600s. It is the most recent grand minimum the planet experienced. Temperatures dramatically dropped to the point where the Baltic Sea and Thames River froze over. Ironically, other parts of the globe heated up, such as Alaska and Greenland, to more than their normal temperature. This short-term change of temperatures could happen again, but the researchers say it will not cause notable effects on the overall global warming that the planet is experiencing presently.