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Space and Physics

No, There Isn't Going To Be A "Mini Ice Age"

author

Jonathan O'Callaghan

Senior Staff Writer

clockNov 16 2018, 17:05 UTC

StockLite/Shutterstock

Oh God, why hath thou forsaken us. Why hath thou given climate change deniers more reason to come out with their crap theories.

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Yes, it’s that time of year again where media outlets suggest a “mini ice age” is on the way because of the Sun, and deniers jump on the stories as proof that humans are not driving climate change.

We’ve got stories today proclaiming a “dead Sun” is about to cause a mini ice age, predicted by NASA, and others heralding the arrival of “a uniquely grim mini ice age”. I’m not going to link to them.

In turn, a quick search on Twitter shows us some mind-numbingly infuriating comments from the usual crowd. “Here we go folks!” says one. “No [sic] they are saying a mini Ice Age is coming. These are from the same folks that predicted huge ice melts and hot temperatures.”

“What? The sun has an effect on the earths temperature? Who duh thunk?” says another.

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Again, I’m not linking. Because reasons.

So where is this all coming from? Well, it looks like there are a couple of misunderstandings here. The first is the fact that we are currently moving towards solar minimum – the period in the Sun’s 11-year cycle when its activity reaches its lowest point.

Note, this cycle is very regular. It is not the driver of climate change on Earth. Here is some good information about why that is true.

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Then, the outlets seem to have picked up some comments from the website SpaceWeatherArchive.com back in September. “We see a cooling trend,” the website quoted Martin Mlynczak of NASA's Langley Research Center as saying. "High above Earth's surface, near the edge of space, our atmosphere is losing heat energy. If current trends continue, it could soon set a Space Age record for cold."

Mlynczak’s comments here are clearly not referring to climate change. They’re talking about Earth’s atmosphere, specifically a region called the thermosphere. During decreased solar activity, the thermosphere shrinks – which, while reducing the amount of atmospheric drag on satellites, also prolongs the orbit of space junk.

The Sun simply does not have that large an effect on our climate compared to human activity. There is no mini ice age on the way. Stories like these that suggest otherwise, and the ensuing comments, make me want to tear my eyes out. Happy Friday all.


Space and Physics
  • climate change,

  • sun,

  • mini ice age