The Sun Might Enter A Cooler Phase In The Middle Of The 21st Century


Global warming and climate change are two of the biggest concerns that we earthlings are facing today.

Thanks to large-scale, unsustainable, selfish human acts, the Earth might just be rendered inhospitable for man and many other creatures within this century.

And it is much more insidious than we can even imagine. It is not just ice caps melting. El Nino phenomena are becoming more and more erratic, thereby rendering fish-rich coasts totally barren. And let’s not even talk of the continent of plastic floating in the Caribbean.

And really nothing is changing unless we take the onus.

Now, coming to the topic at hand. Science Daily reported that the Sun might enter into a cooling off phase at the middle of the 21st century, which is roughly in two to three decades. This will happen because of something called a ‘Grand minimum’, caused by a drop in the Sun’s magnetic field. During these phases, ‘sunspots’, caused by the Sun’s most intense magnetic field will form less and the level of harmful UV rays will go down as well.

And this has happened before too. Back in the middle of the 16th Century, Europe faced a similar cooling off phase thanks to what scientists call the Maunder Minimum, which caused quite the chaos in Europe as the Thames started freezing regularly, and the North Sea froze enough for the Swedish army to march across the frozen sea and invade Denmark. The basis of this diagnosis is a dearth of geological data.

In the study led by the University of California, San Diego, the scientists will study the potential dim-ability of the Sun in the coming millennium. The study is titled Ultraviolet Flux Decrease Under a Grand Minimum from IUE Short-wavelength Observation of Solar Analogs.The study’s results will be published in the magazine ‘Astrophysical Journal Letters’.

Now, the most interesting part of this whole endeavor is that it opens up new possibilities in climate change studies. Normally given the constant exposure of UV rays, it is difficult to conduct contrast studies. With the fall in UV rays, it might be fruitful to actually study the effects of the UV fluctuations. Normally UV levels fluctuate on an 11-year cycle. But, if the phase happens to coincide with a Grand minimum, an additional 7% reduction is seen.

What to expect?

On Earth, thanks to lower UV rays, the ozone layer will get thinner, which in turn will cause changes in the atmosphere’s very structure and influence the way heat is distributed across the planet. In general, the climate will cool down to some extent and the cooling will not be uniform.

Computer models suggest a reduction of world temperature by several tenths of a degree. This, however, should not be treated as a complete excuse to carry on unsustainable human activities that cause and aggravate global warming. Because, remember, if you think a few degrees of temperature increase (enough to melt a lot of ice caps) is not much, “several tenths of a degree” of temperature degree won’t make much of a difference either.

Well, the sun cooling down is quite a surprise.