Winter is coming.
Last year may have been the warmest on record, but it has done little to quell the fears of scientists arguing that declining sunspot activities could bring on another “little ice age.”
Shrinivas Aundhkar, director of India’s Mahatma Gandhi Mission at the Centre for Astronomy and Space Technology, said declining amounts of sunspots being observed in the last two solar cycles could mean a “mini ice age-like situation” is around the corner.
“The sunspots that can be seen on the sun have comparatively less temperature compared to other surfaces on it,” Aundhkar told people at a lecture entitled “Get Ready for Little Ice Age.”
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“The sun undergoes two cycles that are described as maximum and minimum,” Aundhkar said. “The activity alternates every 11 years, and the period is termed as one solar cycle. At present, the sun is undergoing the minimum phase, reducing global temperatures.”
For years now, scientists have been warning that fewer observed sunspots could mean the Earth is heading for a cooling period. This view, however, has not been adapted by many scientists studying global warming, who say that human activity and natural climate cycles are warming the planet.
High sunspot activity has been associated with periods of warming on the Earth, like the period between 1950 and 1998. Scientists have noted that low sunspot activity has coincided with cooler periods, like the so-called “Little Ice Age” that lasted from the late Middle Ages to the 19th century, where temperatures were much cooler than today.
The past few years have seen more and more scientists argue that declining solar activity likely means cooler temperatures ahead. At the end of 2013, for example, German scientists predicted a century of global cooling based on declining solar activity and ocean oscillation cycles.
“Due to the de Vries cycle, the global temperature will drop until 2100 to a value corresponding to the ‘little ice age’ of 1870,” wrote scientists Horst-Joachim Luedecke and Carl-Otto Weiss of the European Institute for Climate and Energy.
Earlier that year, Professor Mike Lockwood of Reading University told BBC News that declining solar activity has set the stage for global cooling.
“By looking back at certain isotopes in ice cores, [Lockwood] has been able to determine how active the sun has been over thousands of years,” the BBC reported. “Following analysis of the data, Professor Lockwood believes solar activity is now falling more rapidly than at any time in the last 10,000 years.”
Aundhkar now argues that winter temperatures have dropped in the North Pole, causing severe winters, like the so-called “polar vortex” experienced by the U.S. last winter.
“This has also triggered the jet stream, which is active in the northern parts of the globe to shift in inter tropical climate zone like India,” Aundhkar said. “As a result, cold wind conditions were witnessed during the last two years. The unseasonal hailstorms in November and December are a result of the influence of the jet stream. This has also led to steady weakening of magnetic energy of the sun, leading to mini ice age like situation.”
Aundhkar’s explanation for harsh winters runs counter to the explanation given by White House science czar John Holdren, who said that global warming was driving freezing and snowy winters.
In a White House video from last year, Holdren claimed a “growing body of evidence suggests that the kind of extreme cold being experienced by much of the United States as we speak is a pattern that we can expect to see with increasing frequency as global warming continues.”
But Aundhkar disagrees. He argues that Earth is heading for another cooling period like the 17th century, when sunspots were very quiet.
“The Earth may be heading towards a mini-ice age period, which is similar to what was observed in the 17th century,” Aundhkar said. “During the time, the sunspots on the Sun were absent. This led to a drop in northern hemisphere temperature by 2-3 degrees. The current scenario is almost the same. Such climatic conditions might affect the agricultural pattern and health and trigger disasters in the worst scenario.”
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