What Happens During Solar Minimum? Sun May Become 7% Cooler by 2050 (Download PDF)

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Scientists based on 20 years of observations and data, have calculated that sun will be nearly seven percent cooler and dimmer by 2050 causing a mini ice age, said the team of researchers from San Diego.

Image of 400 years of sunspot observations

Image of 400 Years of Sunspot Observations

Image of 400 years of sunspot observations

  • Physicist Dan Lubin lead the study has revealed his observations.

  • The sun moves through an 11-year-cycle where it experiences active and quiet periods, known as the solar maximum and solar minimum.

  • Sun may soon experience its ‘grand minimum’ phase and become unusually cool by 2050.

  • In this state UV radiation diminishes 7 % beyond the lowest point of its cycle.

  • The ‘grand minimum, ’ echos conditions experienced in Europe in the mid-17thcentury.

  • The study is based on Maunder Minimum based on which it was determined that Earth may experience even worse conditions than those that occurred during the mid-17th century.

What is Maunder Minimum?

  • A period in the seventeenth century was called ‘Maunder Minimum’.

  • The temperatures were low enough to cause London’s River Thames to freeze over.

  • The Baltic Sea was frozen to such an extent that a Swedish army was able to invade Denmark in 1658 on foot by marching across the ice.

What Happens During Solar Minimum?

Image of During a solar minimum

Image of During a Solar Minimum

Image of During a solar minimum

  • During a solar minimum, the sun’s magnetism decreases, fewer sunspots form and less ultraviolet radiation makes it to the surface of the planets.

  • Conditions cause sun’s surface to appear clearer and make it dimmer.

  • When the sun’s energy is reduced, the first effect on earth is the thinning of the stratospheric ozone layer.

  • Thinning in turn changes the temperature structure of the stratosphere changing the dynamics of the lower atmosphere, especially wind, and weather patterns.

  • Note that this cooling is not uniform.

What Happen During Solar Maximum?

When the sun experiences a solar maximum, the nuclear fusion at the sun’s core forces more magnetic loops to the surface, due to extreme ultraviolet wavelengths. Will Solar Minimum Stop Climate Change?

  • Solar minimum is unlikely to stop climate change, but would slow the effects

  • Cooling effect of a grand minimum is only a fraction of the warming caused by the increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

  • Scientists estimate that the grand minimum would probably only result in cooling the earth by about 0.25 percent between 2020 and 2070.

- Published/Last Modified on: April 7, 2018

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