In what is called the "grand minimum", the sun will be at a particularly low point during its usually steady 11-year cycle.
In the mid-17th century, a similar phenomenon called the "Maunder Minimum" occurred and dropped the temperatures so much that the Thames River was found to be frozen regularly.
The event starts with irregular intervals due to random fluctuations.
Now, scientists from the University of California, San Diego believe they've pinpointed exactly when the next solar minimum could occur, saying the sun could become "unusually cool" as soon as 2050. Researchers estimate that the UV radiation will decrease by 7 percent more than in the lowest moments of active cycles.
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"Now we have a benchmark from which we can perform better climate model simulations", Lubin said. They compared radiation from stars that are analogous to the Sun and identified those that were experiencing minima.
Lubin and colleagues David Tytler and Carl Melis of UC San Diego's Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences arrived at their estimate of a grand minimum's intensity by reviewing almost 20 years of data gathered by the International Ultraviolet Explorer satellite mission.
When the sun's energy is reduced, the first effect it will have on earth is a thinning of the stratospheric ozone layer. That thinning in turn changes the temperature structure of the stratosphere, which then changes the dynamics of the lower atmosphere, especially wind and weather patterns.
Again, the scientists refer to the Maunder Minimum, during which areas of Europe chilled significantly, but other areas such as Alaska and southern Greenland warmed.
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However, Lubin and his colleagues believe otherwise and say that it is not a solution for global warming, it will only help in slowing it down. The cooling effect of a grand minimum is only a fraction of the warming effect caused by the increasing concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
One such study looked at the climate consequences of a future Maunder Minimum-type grand solar minimum, assuming a total solar irradiance reduced by 0.25 percent over a 50-year period from 2020 to 2070.
A study that was conducted the a year ago found out that there is a 90 percent increase in the odds that the global temperatures could increase from 2 degrees to 4.9 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
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