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Study predicting 'mini ice age' criticized as flawed

A number of other studies suggest a slowdown in solar radiation will have a minimal effect on upward trending global temperatures.

By
Brooks Hays
Reports that another mini ice age is on the way has been criticized. File Photo by UPI/Brian Kersey
Reports that another mini ice age is on the way has been criticized. File Photo by UPI/Brian Kersey | License Photo

WASHINGTON, July 14 (UPI) -- Some headline-grabbing research by a math professor at Northumbria University in England suggesting that the Earth will experience a "mini ice age" in the 2030s is being criticized by climate experts.

Valentina Zharkova's study, which made headlines around the world, didn't directly predict a miniature ice age, but that the sun's solar activity would go into a prolonged lull.

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Zharkova says the magnetic waves that cause sunspots exist as two divergent -- and competing -- frequencies. These frequencies will soon cancel each other out, she says, leading to a reduction in radiation hurled toward Earth.

The Royal Astronomical Society, after its National Astronomy Meeting last week in Llandudno, Wales, sent out a press release that helped shine the spotlight on Zharkova's research, which was published last year in the Astrophysical Journal.

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Zharkova recently questioned the consensus of anthropogenic global warming. She believes the sun's fluctuating output plays a greater role in influencing temperature than does the greenhouse gas effect.

"I am not convinced with the arguments of the group promoting global warming of an anthropogenic nature," Zharkova told The Washington Post.

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For this reason and others, Zharkova predicts a reduction in solar radiation to precipitate a drop in global temperatures, similar to the last mini ice age, or Maunder Minimum, that hit Earth in the mid-1700s and caused several decades of harsh winters in the Western Hemisphere.

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But Zharkova is isolated in her conclusions on the sun's climatic effects.

Recent studies suggest a slowdown in solar radiation will have a minimal effect on upward-trending global temperatures.

"Any reduction in global mean near-surface temperature due to a future decline in solar activity is likely to be a small fraction of projected anthropogenic warming," scientists concluded in a recent study published in the journal Nature.

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"The effect is a drop in the bucket, a barely detectable blip, on the overall warming trajectory we can expect over the next several decades from greenhouse warming," Michael Mann, professor of meteorology at Pennsylvania State University, told The Washington Post.

Furthermore, a number of recent studies suggest the so-called Little Ice Age was, as its name suggests, quite small in size and stature -- resulting in only small temperature reductions isolated to Europe. It was also, scientists say, mostly the result of an uptick in volcanic activity, which spewed sun-blocking gas and ash into the atmosphere.

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