The climate of the earth has fluctuated quite a bit over the last 4. One of the most intriguing questions in earth science is whether the periods of ice ages are over or is the earth in an "interglacial," or period of time between ice ages? The current geologic time period is known as the Holocene.Outsiders Weather and Ice Age Watch
This epoch began about 11, years ago which was the end of the last glacial period and the end of the Pleistocene epoch. The Pleistocene was an epoch of cool glacial and warmer interglacial periods which began about 1.
As only 11, years have passed since the last Ice Age, scientists cannot be certain that humans are indeed living in a post-glacial Holocene epoch instead of an interglacial period of the Pleistocene and thus due for another ice age in the geologic future. Some scientists believe that an increase in global temperature, as is now being experienced, could be a sign of an impending ice age and could actually increase the amount of ice on the earth's surface.
The cold, dry air above the Arctic and Antarctica carries little moisture and drops little snow on the regions. An increase in global temperature could increase the amount of moisture in the air and increase the amount of snowfall. After years of more snowfall than melting, the polar regions could accumulate more ice.
An accumulation of ice would lead to a lowering of the level of the oceans and there would be further, unanticipated changes in the global climate system as well. Mankind's short history on earth and even shorter records of the climate keep people from fully understanding the implications of global warming. Without a doubt, an increase in the earth's temperature will have major consequences for all life on this planet.
Share Flipboard Email. Matt Rosenberg. Geography Expert. Updated December 11, Since our article yesterday about how reduced solar activity could lead to the next little ice age, IFLScience has spoken to the researcher who started the furor: Valentina Zharkova. She noted that her team didn't realize how much of an impact their research would have on the media, and that it was journalists including ourselves who picked up on the possible impact on the climate.
However, Zharkova says that this is not a reason to dismiss this research or the predictions about the environment. The future predicted activity of the Sun has been likened to the Maunder Minimum. This was a period when the Sun entered an especially inactive period, producing fewer sunspots than usual. The previous Maunder Minimum occurred in the 17th century and lasted between 50 and 60 years.
The ice was so thick that people could walk from one side to the other. The predictions that Zharkova announced came from a mathematical program that analyzed data from the Sun. The team decided that they wanted to monitor the Sun's background magnetic field which governs solar features like sunspots. You can see the team's data for cycles 21—23 published in The Astrophysical Journal. After analyzing the solar data with their model, Zharkova's team noticed something that no one had ever expected before: that the Sun produces the magnetic waves in pairs.
Previously everyone had thought that there was only a single source of magnetic waves in the Sun, but the evidence suggested two sources. The team used these observations to predict how the Sun's magnetic field would change in the future. So we will have less heat coming into the atmosphere, which will reduce the temperature.
How Often Do Ice Ages Happen?
The answer to the first question depends on whether you're talking about big ice ages or the little ice ages that happen within those larger periods. Earth has undergone five big ice ages, some of which lasted for hundreds of millions of years.
In fact, Earth is in a big ice age now, which explains why the planet has polar ice caps. Big ice ages account for about 25 percent of Earth's past billion years, said Michael Sandstrom, a doctoral student in paleoclimate at Columbia University in New York City. The five major ice ages in the paleo record include the Huronian glaciation 2. During the beginning of the Quaternary glaciation, from about 2. However, during the lastyears, huge glacial sheets have appeared less frequently — about everyyears, Sandstrom said.
This is how the ,year cycle works: Ice sheets grow for about 90, years and then take about 10, years to collapse during warmer periods. Then, the process repeats itself. Given that the last ice age ended about 11, years ago, isn't it time for Earth to get icy again?
But two factors related to Earth's orbit that influence the formation of glacials and interglacials are off. As the planet circles the sun, three factors affect how much sunlight it gets: its tilt which ranges from But if the Earth is too warm, they basically won't do anything, at least in terms of growing ice.
One thing that can warm Earth is a gas such as carbon dioxide. Over the pastyears, carbon dioxide levels have fluctuated between about parts per million and ppm meaning that out of 1 million air molecules, of them are carbon dioxide molecules. That's a difference of only about ppm between glacials and interglacials, Sandstrom said.
But carbon dioxide levels are much higher today when compared with these past fluctuations. In MayAntarctica carbon dioxide levels hit the high level of ppm, according to Climate Central. Earth has been warm before. For instance, it was much warmer during the dinosaur age. The warming effects of that carbon dioxide will have big consequences, he said, because even a small increase in Earth's average temperature can lead to drastic changes, he said.
For instance, Earth was only about 9 degrees Fahrenheit 5 degrees Celsius colder, on average, during the last ice age than it is today, Sandstrom said.
The factors that caused the long ice ages, such as the Quaternary glaciation, are less well-understood than those that led to glacials, Sandstrom noted.
But one idea is that a massive drop in carbon dioxide levels can lead to lower temperatures, he said. For instance, according to the uplift-weathering hypothesis, as plate tectonics pushed up mountain ranges, new rock became exposed. These rocks provided critical components that marine organisms used to build their calcium-carbonate shells.Science Fiction Sci-Fi.
About Us. Science Science News. Matthew Loffhagen. Weird Science. In the modern world, most people are very used to hearing scientists prophesying of the dangers of man-made climate change, often referred to as global warming, as trapped carbon dioxide in our atmosphere causes the planet's temperature to rise, and the polar ice to melt at an alarming rate.
Now, though, scientists led by Valentina Zharkova at Northumbria University are arguing that we might be about to see the reverse occurring - instead of heating up, starting inthe world is going to enter a period of cooling that's being described as a "mini ice age". Every ten to twelve years, our sun goes through a fairly predictable pattern of behavior, venting solar radiation, and rising or falling in temperature.
Every cycle is different, and it's not possible to entirely predict what's coming, but by looking at certain signs in the sun's solar activity, Zharkova has made some educated guesses about the upcoming cycle. If Zharkova's predictions are correct, starting inthe sun will quiet down a lot, letting off a lot less energy and heat.
This, then, will affect our planet, as global temperatures drop as a result of less light and heat making it to the Earth. While anyone who's seen Batman and Robin will be able to tell you that similar conditions killed the dinosaurs, this prophecy isn't all doom and gloom - if anything, Zharkova thinks that this is a great blessing to our species, as we grapple with trying to kick our unhealthy fossil fuel addiction.
Miniature ice ages known scientifically as "Maunder minimum" periods have come many times in the past - a similar one, for example, was reponsible for low temperatures that froze the River Thames in London back in the seventeenth century. Of course, the danger of news like this is that certain people can willfully ignore its full implications.
It's nice to hear that the world will be cooling slightly and that some of the terrible weather effects we've been seeing recently will likely slow, but this doesn't mean that major polluters are off the hook. This is a grace period, providing us with enough time to sort out our crap sometimes literallybut eventually the bubble will burst, the sun will heat up, and we'll all be in danger if we don't clean up our act.
We have to be sorted by that time and prepare everything on Earth for the next big solar activity. Get Our Newsletter. Science News. Popular This Week. Related Stories. Release the Kraken! Stay up to date, get the Outer Places Newsletter:.
All Rights Reserved.Editor's note 3 March : The information presented in this article is outdated; it received additional scrutiny when it was first reported inwith experts correctly pointing out that humans have a bigger impact on Earth's climate than the Sun.
You can read more about these criticisms in this article from 15 July Such low solar activity has not been seen since the last mini ice age, called the Maunder Minimum, which plunged the northern hemisphere in particular into a series of bitterly cold winters between and The prediction is based on what's known as the Sun's 'year heartbeat'.
The Sun's magnetic activity is not the same year in year out, it fluctuates over a cycle that lasts between 10 and 12 years. Ever since this was discovered years ago, scientists have struggled to predict what each cycle will look like. But just last week at the National Astronomy Meeting in Wales, mathematics professor Valentina Zharkova from Northumbria University in the UK has presented a new model that can forecast what these solar cycles will look like based on the dynamo effects at play in two layers of the Sun.
Zharkova says she can predict their influence with an accuracy of 97 percent.
Bundle Up: Scientists Predict 'Mini Ice Age' Will Hit Earth in Five Years
What exactly are these so-called dynamo effects? They're part of a geophysical theory that explains how the motion of Earth's outer core moves conducting material, such as liquid iron, across a weak magnetic field to create an electric current. This electric current also interacts with the fluid motion below the surface of Earth to create two magnetic fields along the axis of its rotation.
When Zharkova's model applied this theory to the Sun, it drew its predictions assuming that there are dynamo effects in two subterranean layers - one deep down in the convection zone, and another up near the surface, each fluctuating between the northern and southern hemispheres.
Zharkova explained her findings at the conference:. They both have a frequency of approximately 11 years, although this frequency is slightly different, and they are offset in time. Combining both waves together and comparing to real data for the current solar cycle, we found that our predictions showed an accuracy of 97 percent.
There Probably Won't Be A “Mini Ice Age” In 15 Years
Looking at these magnetic wave patterns, the model predicted that there would be few sunspots over the next two year heartbeats - called Cycle 25, which peaks inand Cycle 26, which runs from to Their interaction will be disruptive, or they will nearly cancel each other. We predict that this will lead to the properties of a 'Maunder minimum'," said Zharkova. So I guess time to get your skates ready?By John Naish for the Daily Mail.
A professor of mathematics at Northumbria University is warning that a mini ice age could hit Britain. But if that seems bad enough, imagine our temperatures plummeting to such bone-aching lows that British rivers freeze for months at a time. Our streets would become impassable ice sheets, industry would grind to a halt, vital supplies would be stranded, hospitals overwhelmed and power supplies fail under the unprecedented demand.
Similarly lethal chaos has occurred before, in the harshest period of a centuries-long European cold snap called the Little Ice Age. Between the 17th and early 19th centuries, average temperatures dropped by two degrees centigrade and our winters became so vicious the Thames froze utterly on seven occasions. In the city and surrounding countryside, thousands of people died. Farm animals were wiped out. The wind was even cold enough to crack tree trunks. So far, so historical. Except that a professor of mathematics at Northumbria University is warning that history is in imminent danger of repeating itself.
And Valentina Zharkova is not alone in that startling view. Temperatures will start dropping inaccording to a mathematical model of the Sun's magnetic energy. In this image was captured showing an almost clear sun - which experts say could happen for almost a decade from One field is in a layer close to the surface, while the other is deep inside.
During an year timespan, the magnetic fields alter cyclically. The visible evidence for this occurring would be a dramatic reduction in the number of sunspots. This same phenomenon was observed during the very harshest period of the Little Ice Age, between and Throughout this time, there were only about 50 sunspots on the surface of the Sun instead of the usual 40, Professor Zharkova, who has a PhD in Astrophysics, first mooted the idea two years ago, sparking a furious row in the scientific community over the veracity of her claims.
Previously a mini ice age it hit between andeven causing London's River Thames to freeze over pictured. It has good mathematical background and reliable data, which has been handled correctly.
But other leading experts are queueing up to dismiss such fears. Many critics argue that, while the Maunder Minimum may have had an effect on past climate, it was far from solely responsible for the Little Ice Age of the 17th and 18th centuries. Indeed, volcanic eruptions around the world seem to have been more frequent after the year than during the medieval warm period that preceded it.
Soot and lava propelled high in the atmosphere can shield the Earth from solar rays, causing significant cooling. Professor Brown adds that numerous scientists have investigated exactly how much the Maunder Minimum actually reduced the levels of solar energy hitting Earth. He argues that even the lowest estimated levels would not significantly reverse the effects of modern climate change. Professor Zharkova is unimpressed by such arguments.
The new drop in sunspots might bring another mini ice age, she believes. Who to believe? But here is a much safer prediction. It all comes down to engineering. And that means no more ice fairs. Back in the Little Ice Age, the medieval London Bridge was constructed with many small arches on numerous piers, with weirs in between.
During winter, pieces of ice would get lodged between the piers and effectively dam the river, making it comparatively easy to freeze over. So thickly frozen was the ice that you could roast cattle upon it.Published on March 4, Written by Alan Gray.
Over the past 40 years, Al Gore and his Anthropogenic Global Warming crew warned millions would die from runaway heat.
The cause of this runaway heat, they said, was human-produced Carbon Dioxide CO2. Gore and his crew and the mainstream media said the seas would rise, swamping island and low lying countries. Could that be because an ice age is coming? Or is it just that their observations, measurements, theory, and modeling are all wrong.
James Hansen, Columbia University adjunct professor and climate activist, warned about dangerous climate change in his Congressional testimony. It is nowand the sea around Manhattan is practically unchanged.
Forget Global Warming, The Sun Says An Ice Age Is Coming
And there will be tape across the windows across the street because of high winds. Nowhere near it. All of their climate models are wrong, and their ten-year predictions keep failing. They said the North Pole would be free of ice and Antarctic melting would drown islands. None of that happened. Until now.
And now they admit they were wrong. At least they did, and that is a good thing. This outright lie is still being used as the basis for political discussion. Especially school students who know almost nothing about the world and how propaganda works. Certainly, climate is changing, but the attempts to pin it all on CO2 are a miserable failure.
Unfortunately, politics and research funding have caused half the population to be pitted against the other half. In the real world, CO2 is necessary for life and forms only 0.
Astrophysicist Joseph Postma shows that the global warming models only work if the earth is flat. They just accepted the premise and the formula rather than doing real science and questioning it. Science is about observing, testing, theorizing and questioning.
All four of those things, constantly. Science is not about voting on whether peer-reviewed papers might suggest one thing or another. The non-problem of Anthropogenic Global Warming sucks up research dollars. Western economies have been crippled because of the focus on trying to reduce CO2 plant food. Germany killsbats each year, and as many birds with ugly, useless windmills. Now they are considering adding more windmills — by cutting down their forests.