Solar Minimum is coming: Chances of ‘mini ICE-AGE’??? The Dynamic Frequency Ratnadeep Das Choudhury

We all are in lockdown due to ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. But, the earth and its people are not alone. Our star, Sun also joined us!!!

It’s not spooky, rather it’s a natural phenomenon. Every 11 years or so, the sun goes into a state of ‘Solar Minimum’. During solar minimum, sunspots fade away, bringing a calm period for the sun. During normal times, Sun shows intense activities such as sunspots and solar flares.

Already there have been 100 days in 2020 when our Sun didn’t display any sunspots and that makes 2020 the second consecutive year of a low number of sunspots. This indicates that the sun is now gradually entering in ‘solar minimum state. In December of 2019, the prediction panel of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the US) stated that “solar minimum between cycles 24 and 25 will occur in April, 2020 (+/- 6 months).

Sunspots The Dynamic Frequency Ratnadeep Das Choudhury

NASA regularly observes and take picture of the Sun and that helps the scientist to study more on Sun. You can see Sun’s latest picture taken by NASA here.

Sunspots are just like the ‘skin-spots’ which we often develop on our skin. They are temporary phenomena on the Sun’s photosphere that appear as dark spots. They are the regions of reduced surface temperature caused by concentrations of magnetic flux that inhibit convection.

The sun has a cycle that lasts between 9 to 14 years, on average and right now we are in the through. The peak is called ‘solar maximum’. At that time the sun produces more electrons and protons as the activity of sun increase which results in more solar flares and coronal mass ejections. The northern lights or Aurora becomes more frequent during solar maximum as the more charged-up solar wind interacts with our atmosphere.

Solar charged particles colliding with Earth's magnetic field The Dynamic Frequency Ratnadeep Das Choudhury
Solar charged particles colliding with Earth's magnetic field

The solar cycle is based on the Sun’s magnetic field. When it flips around every 11 years, north and south magnetic poles of sun switch their places.

400 years of sunspot observations The Dynamic Frequency Ratnadeep Das Choudhury

What are the effects on Earth due to ‘Solar Minimum’?

Well, there are many possible effects, but here I am listing the most important effects:

1) During solar minimum, we can see the development of coronal holes. These are vast regions in the sun’s atmosphere where the sun’s magnetic field open to interplanetary space and thus allowing streams of solar particles to escape the sun.  These streams can cause space weather effects near Earth when they hit Earth’s magnetic field and thus disturbing Earth’s magnetosphere (geomagnetic storms). These also give rise to auroras and cause disruptions to communications and navigation systems. They also disrupt our satellite system.

Regions marked with white arrows are Coronal Holes The Dynamic Frequency Ratnadeep Das Choudhury
Regions marked with white arrows are Coronal Holes

During normal times, Earth’s upper atmosphere is heated and puffed up by UV radiation from the sun. For that, satellites in low earth orbit experience some drag. This drag is necessary as it helps the space junks to lose speed gradually and fall back to earth’s atmosphere and get burned up thus, helping to clean low-earth orbit. But, due to solar minimum, this natural heating mechanism hits its rock-bottom and thus Earth’s outer atmosphere cools. For this reason, the drag gets reduced and space junk stays there. This can be dangerous for various satellites, ISS (International Space Station) and astronauts.

3) During solar minimum Sun’s magnetic field weakens and provides less shielding from Galactic cosmic rays. These rays are high energy particles come towards the solar system from distant supernova explosions and other violent events in the galaxy. This can create a dangerous threat for the astronauts in space.

So, is there any chance of an ICE AGE???

Well, experts say that you can relax!!!

There is a very the low chance that this phenomenon is going to create freezing weather, famine or earthquakes. Although, this time, the solar minimum has become ‘Grand Solar Minimum’. It’s a period when the sun is at solar minimum state for a much longer time. Last time when it happened, it caused a ‘Little ice age’.

Yeah, some “scientists” are fearing a repeat of that ‘Little Ice Age’, which is known as
Dalton Minimum. This event occurred around the 19th century, around 1816. It was a year without summer. At that time, the temperature dropped, crops failed and many people starved to death and died from the cold.

But, all these happened not only for the solar Minimum. All those problems were also the result of the eruption of Mount Tambora volcano in 1815. In addition to that, various research paper found little to no evidence of a link between solar minimum and earthquakes.

Mount Tambora Volcano The Dynamic Frequency Ratnadeep Das Choudhury
Mount Tambora Volcano

Moreover, we will never experience that amount of ‘cold’ as the greenhouse emissions from fossil fuels is about 6 times greater than the possible decades-long cooling from a Grand Solar Minimum. Even if a Grand Solar Minimum were to last a century, global temperatures would continue to warm. Human’s industrial activities and its emissions have far more influence on our climate than the Grand Solar Minimum!!!

During Dalton minimum, greenhouse emission wasn’t as much as it is now. Also, the sun is significantly more active than it was during Dalton Minimum!!!

To know more about the effects of the solar cycle on Earth's atmosphere, you can refer to the article by NASA: Do variations in the solar cycle affects our climate system, to know more about its effect

At last, I want to attach NASA's video which explains more about Solar Minimum...

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Thanks for reading.....

See you next time!!!

                                                                      -Ratnadeep Das Choudhury
                                                      Founder and Writer of The Dynamic Frequency